Thursday, June 17, 2010

Heartbreak Comes Quickly ~ Part 2

Mama gasped as Maria fell, all the color having left her face. Seemingly out of nowhere, two girls appeared to come to our assistance. I recognized cousin Rosie, my Aunt Mary's only daughter, but the other girl was unfamiliar. She had large blue eyes and pale blonde hair. 

"We must get her air," the unknown girl said to me, in a French accent. I nodded quickly, and helped her and Rosie support Maria's head. We lifted her to a couch out on the terrace balcony, from which we could still see the swirling dancers. I turned my head towards Rosie's French friend, wondering what her name might be. The girl was nervously twisting her hands in her lap, glancing nervously from Maria's ashen face on the pillow to Rosie's face.

"Eva..." Maria whispered hoarsely.

"I'm here, Maria," I answered.

To the others, I said, "We must move her to a bed. I am sure Lizzy will not mind us putting Maria in her room." Rosie nodded, glancing once more at Maria. "But none of us are strong enough to carry her!" I said despairingly. "Who can help lift her?"

"I would be honored to be of service, madam," a gentleman said. I whirled and looked up at a man I instantly knew to be Mr. Gould, the man cousin Lizzy seemed to admire very much a while ago, but now despised for some unknown reason. Her letters had given me a little insight as to his looks, and this gentleman matched the description exactly. 

"Yes, thank you, sir! She just fainted - lack of air, I think, a case of too many people in one room-"

"I can lift her to a bed," the gentleman said.

"Maria," I whispered to my sister. "This kind gentleman is going to take you upstairs, dear. I think you should lie down."

She nodded weakly and made no protests when he lifted her into his arms.

Cousin Lizzy met us on the stairs, a look of alarm on her face when she took in my sister, pale and sickly-looking, in Mr. Gould's arms.

"What happened?" She asked.

"Maria fainted. She apparently was in love with Lee and he was not in love with her. She took his actions too seriously."

We took Maria to Lizzy's bed, where she seemed to be reviving. I left her there in the care of Mama and a very trusty maid of my aunt's. Mr. Gould had bowed, introduced himself, expressed his wishes as to her speedy recovery, and then rejoined the party. Lizzy had also come in and convinced me to rejoin the dancers. I gave her a grateful smile and left. But I did not intend to dance... not right away, at least.

I looked for Rosie on the stairs, but I could not find her. Locating her among the many people in the ballroom would be impossible. That's when I heard a small whisper. I recognized the sound of the French girl's soft voice.

"It ees not possible, Rosie," she said. "And I do not want to leave him. I love him!" Her voice sounded like it was about to break.

"Amae," I heard Rosie say gently. "I am not forcing you to end your marriage. It is just that you are so young..." Her voice trailed off.

"I will be eighteen next summer," Amae said stoutly. "Zat ees old enough, is it not?"

"Yes, but this Mr. Hornburg does not seem to be the most admirable of gentlemen, convincing you to elope..."

"He is ze finest, Rosie! Ze best! You leave me alone!" I heard Amae sobbing as she ran away.

I went softly down the stairs. Rosie was sitting underneath the staircase, looking pale and worried.

"What is wrong, Rosie?" I asked.

She seemed about to turn, but changing her mind, faced me. Her cheeks were stained with tears.

"Amae... Amae eloped with a man by the name of Edward Hornburg. We just learned of this a few days ago. Her father is searching for her."

My face went blank with shock. "But she seems such a nice girl! How could she-"

"She is nice, Eva!" Rosie was quick to defend her friend. "It is just... well, I think this gentleman is very affective in persuasion. She seemed absolutely swept off her feet in love with him, and she will not listen to reason!"

"She is married to this man?"

"Yes."

"Then what is wrong? Is not that enough to help repair her honor?"

"Evelyn, listen! He is not a man to be desired! I know this Edward Hornburg!"

My face went pale.


1 comment:

Katherine said...

Great post! So much mystery!

:D Anne