It was a competition.
It was titled See How Fast You Can Pack Your Trunk, and I was losing.
But soon our maid, Betsy, entered the room to relieve me.
"I'm really going to miss you, honey," she said as she set my trunk to rights.
I leaned my head on Betsy old, thin shoulder. "I know. And I really wish I could stay. It's just..."
"You must follow your mother's bidding, dear. And you're doing the right thing by listening to her without a complaint. Remember the fifth commandment."
I leaned my head on the bedpost and slumped over a bit.
"Are you alright, honey? You don't look so good." Betsy's voice was slightly alarmed.
"Oh, I'm fine. I don't know what it is - I just haven't felt myself these past few days. Perhaps it's all the worry over this trip."
"You need a good sleep tonight, dear."
"I know. But I don't see how I'm going to get one, rattling around in a carriage."
"You need a good sleep," Betsy repeated. "I'll see if Mrs. Wickham can put you in a softer part of the carriage." She finished folding my garments and closed the trunk lid. The door shut softly behind her.
I flopped on the bed and lay for about ten minutes. I thought on the last few days.
I hadn't really had time to watch the sunrise ever since that one day a week ago. Mama and Maria had gotten me up at dawn, but not to view the horizon. Rather, they wished that I spend my time shopping in the city with them. Mama was determined that we should not be outshined by our wealthy cousins, and Maria is in full agreement. As for myself, I don't really worry about that sort of thing. All the time Mama spends on our frills and gowns and laces and sashes seems ridiculous.
"Eva! Evelyn, come! We are to leave soon, and we cannot be late!" Maria dashed into my room the minute the words left Mama's mouth.
"Did you hear that, Eva? You must come! Goodness, won't it be so fine in London, with all those gentleman swirling around us?"
I opened my mouth for a reply, but she didn't give me a chance. "And when that darling boy Leland Smith sees me - why, he'll just fall head over heels in love with me! Don't you agree?"
I once more tried to speak, but she cut me off. "Oh, there's Mama! Come, Eva!" And with that, she skipped out of the room.
This was getting to be a very frustrating situation.
I peeked out the window and saw that the carriage had arrived at the door. Papa was helping Mama in, who was fixing the ribbon on her bonnet. Maria was doing the same, and taking occasional peeks into a small pocket mirror to check if her feather was straight.
Sarah, our young housemaid, came to help carry my trunk to the carriage. She smiled at me sadly, as if to say she was sad to see me go, but didn't speak a word.
Once we were all squished into the small carriage, the driver flicked the whip and the horses started off. I glanced back at our house and saw Becky waving sadly.
"Stop!" I cried. "Stop the carriage!"
Mama and Papa looked at me with alarm, but I didn't answer their unspoken questions. Instead, I climbed out of the carriage and ran back to the house. I ran into Betsy's arms, to give her one last hug.
"I'll never forget you, Betsy. I won't forget you."
She kissed my hair, than pushed me forward. "Go. They are all waiting for you."
Climbing back into the carriage, I saw Maria staring at me, as if to say "I can't believe you ran back to hug a maid."
I ignored her disdain and once more turned to look back out the carriage window. Betsy was growing smaller and smaller, far off in the distance. I repeated the words I had spoken to her not one minute ago.
"I won't forget you."