Monday, May 10, 2010

Morning With the Wickhams

It took me one minute after awaking to realize where I was. I awoke to the chiming of the clock. Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! It was six o' clock in the morning.
I rolled over in my bed and stretched. So this was how wealthy ladies felt when they woke in the morning. Lazy, luxuriant, and without a care in the world. I certainly felt that way at this moment. I stretched once more, than stepped out onto the balcony. The new morning in London needed proper greeting, such as what I normally gave to the sunrise at home.

When I stepped back into the room, I saw Maria standing by the floor-length mirror, fixing her hair. The maid, an Irish girl named Lillian, was watching nervously, hoping that Maria would issue no complaints.
"It-it's the best I can do, Ma'am," she was saying nervously.
"Yes, I can see that," Maria said slowly. "However, I don't think I look my best. Fix that ribbon, Lillian."
"Yes, o' course, Ma'am," Lillian said quickly. She arranged the sea-green ribbons again with nimble fingers, braiding the strands of silk in and out of Maria's ornately-twisted bun. 
"There, that will do," Maria said quickly. "Now for my gown."
Lillian took a gown of the same sea-green, starched until it could stand on its own, out of the wardrobe. The gown was be-frilled and be-ribboned as much as possible. I recognized it as Maria's best.
"Maria, if you wear that gown now... well, what do you plan to wear to the evening party tonight? Remember how Papa's old army friend, Mr. Carter, invited us to dine at his home tonight?"
"Miss Evelyn, Ma'am, perhaps you shouldn't have mentioned that-" Lillian said pleadingly.
"No, no, Eva is entirely correct, Lillian. Take out my sky-blue gown with the lacy ribbons, please."
With another despairing glance at me, the maid once more turned to the wardrobe. I felt a stab of pity for her and almost wished that I had held my tongue. But Maria had been wearing her best dress... and if she wore it now she could not wear it then... My conscience was pricking me from all angles, and I knew not what to do. I finally decided to just leave Maria and Lillian to their dressing and attend to mine.
I had decided on a white cotton gown with tiny pink roses sewn into the fabric. The high pink satin sash looked splendid in contrast, and I thought I would ask Lillian to arrange my curls with a ribbon of the same color. It was then that I overheard a conversation going on between the maid and my sister.
"Do you think Mr. Smith will think me beautiful, Lillian?" Maria asked.
"Aye, o' course, Miss Maria," the maid said, not daring to disagree, lest she anger her master's daughter. "Anyone can see that you are a very bonny girl," Lillian added hastily.
"Yes," said Maria in a condescending tone. "I am sure I must look my best. Therefore, you, Lillian, must do your best."
"I-I, o' course I will, Ma'am," answered Lillian. What else was the poor girl to say?
"Now, help me into that gown," Maria ordered.
As soon as she was in the other dress, Maria decided that she must change her hairstyle as well. After all, she pointed out, I couldn't possibly be expected to wear a sea-green ribbon with a sky-blue dress. What would people think of me? Lillian just nodded - as was her response to everything Maria said. Maria didn't like the way her hair was braided - Lillian nodded her assent to change it. Maria thought her shoes were too plain - Lillian went to retrieve another. After all, in the maid's way of thinking, she was the servant, and Miss Maria was the master's daughter. Nothing was too good for her.
I was attaching my small cross necklace around my neck when I heard my sister speak once more - and not to order Lillian around.
"I mean to make Leland ask me to marry him," Maria said placidly, forgetting to call him by his proper name. "What do you think, Lillian?"
"Well..." Lillian began. "I never went about making a man propose to me afore, but I am sure if any man could be induced to propose to a young lass, you would be the lass to do it, Miss Maria, Ma'am."
"Of course I could," said Maria, all the more placid. But suddenly she whirled 'round and looked with worried eyes at the maid. "But-but what if he can't be pushed into a marriage proposal? What if he is the type of gentleman who can't be forced to do anything? Uncle Darcy is that way, you know. And they are very good friends..." she added with a sigh, as if some of Uncle Darcy's character could somehow be rubbed off on those who were his close acquaintances. 
"I'm sure he likes you very much - Mr. Smith, that is," Lillian said hastily.
With an assured smile, Maria nodded her agreement and turned to the mirror, waving her hand to signal that she was done. And then she swept out of the room.
Sighing with relief, Lillian walked quickly to me to help me with my dressing.
"I know you must suffer much, taking all that trouble with Maria, Lilly," I said to her sadly.
"Oh no, Ma'am... I mean, I'm payed to do my job here, and, as me Mam always says when I arrive home each evenin', "it's all in a day's work." I don't like to complain, Miss Evelyn - that's the way I was raised."
I was shocked into silence at this selfless reply. "Doesn't she ever aggravate you?"
"Yes-and no," Lillian replied thoughtfully. "I see my place here as maybe, in some small way, having a chance to help Miss Maria. Your sister may be pretty vain," this said with a sad shake of her auburn head, "but she's got a heart, though she may hide it. You've just got to give her a chance, Miss Evelyn." Lillian sighed, then spoke to herself quietly. "I just hope she doesn't get her heart broken by that Mr. Smith."


Katherine said...

wow wow WOW! You did the Irish girl so well- this whole scene extremely well! I love it...your characters are very dynamic.

Eldarwen said...

Lizzy, nice post! I'm STILL trying to come up with my next post... :)

Lizzy Bennet said...

Aww, you guys are so sweet! Thanks!!


Monica said...

Great job! I just LOVE Pride and Prejudice!!!! Keep it up!!! Will you introduce the Horst children? You did Lillian SO well!!!


Katherine said...

At present we are sure not...Thanks Monica!

Anonymous said...

very cool post, gipped me all the way through!

Jo March said...

This is such a fun story! I love the maid :) Fabulous job, Eva!

Lady Scribbles said...

Aww dear Lillian. What a great cast of characters you are putting together. Poor Maria in a way too, as with all her outward confidence she is hiding the fact that she is very insecure.