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Forums » General Roleplay » Across a Crowded Room [Victorian Era 1x1/Group RP]

Hello all. This is a high society RP set during the Victorian era. I don't mind if it is 1x1 or multiplayer. But I do ask that you try to write as much per response as you are able.


Evenings in High Society during the summer were filled with lavish parties. Women in beautiful gowns and jewels that glittered and sparkled. Young women who were debuting into society as a sign that they were ready for marriage and young men, daper in suits eager to twirl them across dance floors and whisk them away with promises of wealth and silk and love.

For those who had money, love was more of a political or social engagement than it was one of actual endearment. Ladies toiled away at skills they thought would make them more appealing to prospective families - poetry, music, the arts. To Katherine, as she stood beside her grandmother in the hall, it seemed as though the young girls were no more women than a bird. They all flocked together, chirping behind gloved hands and fans, looking at men across the room who they hoped might invite them to dance.

That was not the life for Katherine. She was married to her music, or so she thought in her mind. She saw how unhappy her sister's marriage was, and they had supposedly been in love. No, Katherine was content with being alone if that meant she could travel the world playing piano. In a world dominated by men, it was very much a feminine art that music belonged. The soft fingers on piano. The delicate and gorgeous gowns of richly colored silk and the desiring eyes that looked upon her as she played. That was Katherine's life in high society. A little, bejeweled song bird who played and sang with the softness of a dove.

"You're slouching, Katherine."
"My apologies, grandmother," the young woman said, straightening herself up beside the lady who always accompanied her to these events. The Lady Victoria-Anne Wytherine. Her father's mother. Like a diamond, she had not lost her sparkle. Even at her age, she was a formidable woman in society. Someone who might make of break a young woman's chances of finding love. Katherine was glad to have her as not only a family member, but as a protector in this mismatch of desire and politics.
"Go and mingle child. I am going to find a seat by the piano for when you play."

Katherine nodded, curtsying a little before picking up the hem of her gown a little and crossing through the edges of the room. She hated small talk above all things, but she would do so to appease her grandmother. Or at least, until her grandmother was out of sight. Now, Katherine was a beautiful young woman. There was no doubt. With fair skin, auburn hair and her grey-blue eyes, she might have been the perfect wife for many a suitor. But with her grandmother's critical eye and her distaste for false appearances, Katherine was hard to win over. In saying that, like all young woman, she did harbor the desire to catch someone's eyes from across a room and feel connection, if only for a moment. She did want to be loved. But real love, as she thought of it, was a very rare thing indeed in the world she inhabited. She had to marry for money, status and political gain for her family. It truly was a horrid thought that she might be paired off with a man who had very little interest in her. And of course, if she married, her love of music would have to cease and she would be expected to run a household and raise children.
“… and it wouldn’t kill you to smile” she added as a final instruction when they walked in. Then, taking his proffered arm and leaning on it, she added, a smile on her lips to soften the criticism in her words “or so I believe, though it still begs proving”.

Edward returned his sister smile with a tight one that didn’t touch his eyes. If she didn’t want him to be sour, she shouldn’t have forced him to come. As it was, he only agreed so that she’d let the matter of his standing in society drop for a few weeks. She had managed to convince him he needed to find a new wife, but it didn’t he had to find her like this. He still wasn’t sure how, but not like this.

Courting was not for widowers, he thought. He had done that part before. Eyes meeting across the room, blushing when a dance is asked for, heart thumping, fear of rejection. He’s done that and found love. It was such a rare and flighty thing to have. He doubted it would be in the cards again for him a second time. He needed a wife for the sake of his daughter, it was only practical. His heart could be left out of it.

Music and talking filled the grand room. He recognized no more than half the faces he saw. Perhaps Doretha was right, he had been absent from society for far too long. He’d never been very good at it. Yet another reason he needed a wife, or his beloved daughter would grow to be a recluse like him. He let her steer him toward a group of lady friends she wished to greet first. It didn’t matter to him which way they were going.
Katherine Wytherine (played by sanahakuryu) Topic Starter

"Well would you look at that."
"What?"
"It's Mr Rutherford."

Katherine was not prone to gossip but the name was familiar to her. The Rutherford family was as well known as her own, as was the tragedy that had befallen them. His wife dead, his daughter motherless and the gentleman withdrawn from society. It was rare to see him at social gatherings. He'd no doubt been dragged in by a family member who was more engaged in society affairs. Of course, a man did not need to re-marry to raise a daughter. He could hire a governess and have her taught that way. Katherine knew that much. So the twittering among the women, regardless if they were paired off or not did not really concern her.

From where she stood across the room, she watched quietly behind the edge of her fan as she fluttered it a little. Of course, she couldn't just go over and speak with him. As an unmarried woman, she could not make her own introductions. And it was unlikely her grandmother might do so for her. Mr Rutherford was older than her of course. But he was no less handsome. In fact, maturity did well to entice sometimes, rather than boyish charms. The game would be different for him.

"Rare for someone to catch your eye, Kat."
Katherine turned to see that her sister had materialized beside her. She had always been the family beauty. beautiful brown hair and pale skin with talents in French and diplomacy.
"Are you here with-"
"Of course. But he's off drinking. So, Doretha finally dragged her brother out of his solitude. Poor man. To loose a wife just before your daughter comes of age. Such a hard thing. Want an introduction?"
"You know him?"
"No. But, he'd probably know my husband, and that's enough. Besides. I'm married, and you're not, little sister, come."

With that, Katherine found herself being whisker across the floor towards the man. Of course, she was not young. She was approaching 25 and getting too old to be considered a wife. So what chances might she have? Probably none.
"Mr Rutherford. It is a delight to see you. I'm sure you've not met my sister, the Lady Katherine. She will be performing here shortly. I'm sure she will be as delightful as always."

Katherine would have killed her sister if she did not think she meant well and instead she dipped her head and curtsied politely, flicking her fan away of her hip and keeping her eyes down.
"A pleasure, Mr Rutherford. Though my sister flatters me so. I am merely a hobbyist at piano who is drawn into playing at these events."
Both arms locked behind his back, Edward followed his sister and smiled politely at her friends. They peppered him with questions about his wellbeing, his daughter’s health and her education, pointedly avoiding anything too personal, which he suspected was due to the strict instructions of his sister. He tried his best to answer them politely, but by the eighth one he had lost his patience. They kept interrupting each other too, falling silent only when he spoke. It made him feel like a spotlight was directed at him when all he wanted to do was stand in the shadows and wait for this event to be over.

After what felt like hours, but probably didn’t take more than several minutes, his sister took his arm again and directed him toward another corner of the room. On the way there they were stopped by two women. The older one, pretty and confident, looked familiar, though he could not recall her name. The younger, introduced to him as Lady Kathrine, curtsied politely. He found her intriguing. Not quite the conventional beauty her sister was, there was something remarkable about her eyes. He’d only caught a glimpse of them before she cast them down as manners dictated she should.

“I look forward to hearing you play” he said politely. It was expected that he would. In fact, he was not expecting her to be any good. Few were, in these settings. He loved music. In recent years he had found it one of his only comforts.

“Edward plays as well, don’t you, Edward?” Doretha said. He threw her a surprised look. Why would she tell them that? Why would they care?

“I do. Privately” he answered curtly.

“He’s quite good. Won awards when he was young. Didn’t you?”

He only hummed noncommittedly.

“His daughter plays as well, doesn’t she?” Doretha insisted. He wondered if there was anything on this world he could say that would make her leave him alone.

“She does,” he said. And because he couldn’t help it, added “She’s more talented than I ever was”. He had never told Emily he thought so. His parents strongly believed compliments spoil a child. It seemed to be his mother’s greatest concert these days, that he would spoil Emily. As if his daughter was a dish and one wrong move would make it too salty or too sweet.
Katherine Wytherine (played by sanahakuryu) Topic Starter

"I am sure she is blessed to have a father who appreciates her talents for music," Katherine said, much to her sister's surprise, since the comment was a little more forward than one might normally be in such an interaction. Katherine of course appreciated anyone who had a passion for music. She had done as a young girl. Granted, now that passion had pretty much deterred most suitors, Katherine was fine with that.

"Please let me know if she would ever like instruction to improve. I would be happy to teach her," Katherine continued, dipping down into a curtsey again as she noted the mistress of this party looking for her through the crowd - "please excuse me. I must depart to play, less the Lady of the House have a small panic attack," she said politely before leaving the conversation to cross through the room up toward the stage, catching the eye of the Lady who was hosting the party and causing her to breathe a sigh of relief. The rest of the musicians on stage were already finished with their piece as she was escorted up onto stage and the conductor smiled at her as she nodded a greeting.

"My Lords, ladies and gentlemen. We are pleased to be your accompaniments for this evening. But our gracious hosts have also arranged, for your pleasures, the musical delights of Lady Wytherine. So please, do us the join pleasure of welcoming her."
There was polite but a subtle excitement. Katherine curtsied before taking her seat at the piano, adjusting the green silk of her skirt. The piano keys gleamed at her and she smiled happily before settling in to play. The melody seemed simple at first but as she went along, she added layers and layers of undertones and harmines and her long fingers were almost a blur along the keys.

Katherine loved to play. That joy of music came through as she played. Music was an escape from the rigid rules of society and all the pressure she felt from her family to marry. It was freedom to her. That's why she did not wish to give it up only to get married and have children. That was not the life for her.
Edward gave a stiff nod in thanks for her offer. He doubted he’ll call upon it, seeing how he didn’t think she’d be very good. Emily had shown such promise, he had already started making inquiries about a new tutor, her current one admitting he would soon run out of things to teach her. She needed someone who was a top-notch musician. A high society lady was not that.

Not ten minutes later he was eating his words.

He had meant to use everyone’s distraction to slip away. Even his sister released his arm and turned toward the center stage where the piano had been moved to. He lingered for another minute as Kathrine Wytherine took her seat by the majestic instrument, acknowledging the fact that she was, in fact, very beautiful. He was by the side door that let out to the vast, darkened garden when her music stopped him in his place.

Her fingers danced across the keys. He was too far to see property, but even watching her slim back it was clear the ease with which they flittered from one to another, almost impossibly fast. It wasn’t just the skill though. She imbued her music with something more. A purposeful sweetness that was completely appropriate for the event and delighted her listeners in a way they were probably not aware of. While the foundation belonged to a piece he recognized, she had built upon it, making it her own. It was remarkable.

So despite himself, Edward Rutherford found himself standing there, transfixed by Kathrine’s music, until she finished. The room erupted in applause of which he was a reluctantly enthusiastic participant.
Katherine Wytherine (played by sanahakuryu) Topic Starter

Katherine finished and it took a moment for the world to rematerialise around her. The woman stood for the applause and curtsied deeply in thanks before thanking the musical conductor and heading off the stage, politely taking praise and thanks from strangers as she beelined for the back balcony for some air.

She appreciated the coolness of the night, exhaling deeply as she looked up into the sky. She did love the piano so much, but the more she thought on it sometimes, the more she also felt like some prized bird being dragged out to play since she wasn't married. It was hard, watching all of her childhood friends and her sister getting married and having children. It wasn't that she didn't want to marry. But she wanted more than just a good match. She wanted love. But it was so hard in this world. And her title made things harder because she couldn't just marry anyone.
He slipped outside before the applause died down. Stepping into the gardens, he moved away from the grand house, enjoying the relative quiet and the night’s chilly air. He could still hear the low rumble of multiple conversations going on at once emanating from the ballroom, muffled by the thick estate walls. Indistinguishable from one another, there was great relief in not being involved in any of them.

He was never a jovial man, not even in his youth. Edward was always serious and earnest, and rarely a part of his peers’ social games. He wasn’t unhappy though, not miserable. He didn’t laugh often, but he did laugh. Lenora made him laugh.

She’d be upset with him now; he knew that, and the thought caused him no pleasure. She never wanted him to be unhappy. She told him to remarry before she died. For their daughter’s sake as well as his. It was her that told him not to do with a governess, that he was allowed an appropriate mourning period, but then it was her wish that he search for another wife.

Who determined what an appropriate mourning period was though?

She passed away almost three years ago, and still the pain ensconced him like it was a physical thing. Like death shrouds. He hadn’t given his heart easily, but when he did, he surrendered it completely. When she died it was as if this precious thing he had given away so reluctantly was returned to him, smashed and damaged, and he had no further use of it.

He hated self-pity. It was a weak, indulgent trait and he didn’t like thinking of himself a weak, indulgent man. If marrying again was the best thing for his daughter, then he will do it. He will let Dorothea select the appropriate wife, and he will do his best to give that woman a proper life. Love he would not have, but she’ll lack for nothing else.

With his hands behind his back, he turned back toward the ballroom. When he reached the bottom of the three stairs leading up to the back balcony, he saw a lone figure.

“You played beautifully,” he said as he approached lady Katherine. “You’ve got quite a gift”.
Katherine Wytherine (played by sanahakuryu) Topic Starter

Katherine looked at him before curtsying deeply, happy the dimness of the balcony hid the blush from his compliment. It was not that she’d never been complimented, but more that she had never felt that it had been as genuine as he meant.

”You flatter me sir,” the woman said, flicking her hair off her shoulder a little before looking out into the garden with a wistful glance - ”but I am afraid I have much more to learn and little time to accomplish it. Marriage does not bode well for musical talent, as one might put it,”. Katherine said that as though the fact of it weighed heavy on her heart.

It was true. Beneath her finery and title and charms, her music was the one thing she had that she might call her own. But it would never last for a young lady like her was expected to marry and have children. She only ever recalled once loving something more than the piano and that had been a fleeting dream that had been shattered by a careless boy.

”I hope you not think me shameless, Mr Rutherford - lest you think I am insensitive, but, your late wife was a lover of music, was she not? I seem to vaguely recall her face in memory.”
“She was,” he confirmed. He moved closer to Katherine and produced from his pocket a silver mourning locket. Intricately wrought with an artist’s hand, it was adorned with Lenora’s favorite stones, green sapphires. It was a break from the traditional golden one, nor did he keep a lock of her hair in it. She forbade, finding it too morbid and distasteful.

Opening the locket gingerly, Edward held it up for her to see the depiction of his wife’s face. “She sang,” he said, and his voice broke a little. He snapped the locket shut, angry with himself for the naked display of emotion. “She had a lovely voice”. Some evenings, he would accompany her on the piano. Emily would sit by the fire and add her voice to theirs. Sometimes, she sat on her father’s lap, putting her small hands on his big ones as if she was playing.

He turned away, taking a deep breath. “Are you engaged?” he asked, eager to turn the subject from himself to something else, something that didn’t pain him. “Is that why you are worried about marriage’s impact on your music?”
Katherine Wytherine (played by sanahakuryu) Topic Starter

The woman noted with how much love this man seems to hold still for his former wife. Whilst she might not of been of this earth any more, his love remain. It was something she inspired to have. Something that she hoped she might one-day achieve. The love of a man that was so unconditional that even in death the love was hard to sever. To be loved so much by somebody even when you were gone, that was something that she believed every young woman dreamed of, regardless of how much wealth they did or did not have. Katherine was sure, that even though his wife was gone, that Mr Rutherford would love their child and her memory for all eternity, regardless if he remarried.

”to my family’s regret, no,” Katherine commented, with a bit of soreness and also displeasure in her voice. She hated being asked the question whether or not she was engaged to be married. It seem to be all other people could ever think about for her. Of course, she knew that they had no choice in the matter but I think it, but it was still irritating to be asked every time she was in conversation with someone new.

”Honestly, I have no real desire to be married in haste. Perhaps that’s why my family find it a requirement for me to be dragged out to every social events that can be arranged,” the red haired woman said, ”I am older now. Suitors are few and far between. I’d be chastised for saying so, but it’s why you’ve been dragged here is it not? Because your family believes you need to remarry? Forgive me if I’m too forward in asking.”
She certainly doesn’t hold things back, does she? he thought. He supposed that was better than the alternative, even if he wasn’t used to that. “In part, yes. Dorothea, my sister, strongly believes every man should have a wife. She doesn’t think we are able to navigate life very well on our own. My mother would like me to remarry as well, but I don’t think she’s given the why of it a lot of thought. She just does.” He cleared his throat telling himself this was enough. More than that, even. He had shared too much already of his personal turmoil with this woman who was probably ten years his junior and basically a stranger.

And yet he heard himself continue. “As for me, I made a promise. I shouldn’t have, but I did. I can’t break my word now, can I?” a sad smile hovered on his lips, before a grimace tugged the corners down again. “I have no idea how to go about choosing a second wife, if I’m honest. I didn’t have much hand in choosing the first time, either.”

He turned away, walking as he talked and ticking off with his fingers as he spoke. “For a first wife they tell you to choose someone young and healthy who can bear you children, she should come from a good family and should bring into the marriage a title or a good sum of money. Marrying the daughter of a business associate is also acceptable, strengthening the bonds of the two fortunes. Then, I suppose, come having a sweet nature and pleasing looks.

“But for a second wife? Who will want to come into a cheerless home, and a cheerless husband? Which of the criteria should I be relaxing in my search now? Dorothea says none. She thinks I’m quite the catch. A good sister would. The truth is, I don’t care about wealth. I have enough money of my own, and a good name too. I want someone who will be kind to my daughter, who will give her the love Lenora’s illness deprived her of. I want wit, if I can, so that I am not bored to tears, and someone who will leave me be.” Lifting his eyes to meet Katherine’s he gave another half-smile. “Not a good list, admittedly.”
Katherine Wytherine (played by sanahakuryu) Topic Starter

“So you seek a woman who is unafraid to speak her mind but gentle enough to be unintimidated by the feelings you have for your lost wife and daughter?” Katherine sinuses, looking at him carefully before she smiled, flicking out her fan to hide her grin.

“You will be hard pressed with such a woman. Looking in there,” Katherine e motioned to the room of young, untaken ladies - “there is not a flower among them who would not break in the wind.”

he must think me quite impertinent,/
she thought to herself. Who was she to have all this opinion? Who was she to make such offerings of advice?

“I meant what I said though, Mr Rutherford. It would be a pleasure to hear your daughter play, as well as offer her tutelage. You may feel free to bring her for tea whenever is convenient.”
She isn’t wrong, Edward thought. Glancing through the glass pane he could see the well-lit hall, the women moving about. Knowing he was unlikely to find the second wife he sought for among them wasn’t exactly a sad thought, nor did it make him feel relief. Only a sense of heaviness and contrition. He didn’t know way Lenora insisted so, but the thought of failing her was disheartening.

Instead of dwelling on it, though, he thanked Katherine for her offer. “I’d be delighted to do that, Miss Wytherine” he said earnestly. “I would very much like to hear what you think of Emily’s talent and if she should pursue further musical education”. He didn’t want to accept her kind tutelage offer without giving her the chance to hear his daughter first. “Perhaps we can come to call upon you in four days’ time?” From his pocket he produced a small card case, engraved with his initials. He opened it and pulled out one, handing it to her. “In case your plans change” he said. Or you change your mind, he thought. It is quite possible her family will object to his visit, much less any longer-term commitment. Neither one of the was free of their circumstance. He should give her a way out while saving face.

He gave a small bow of his head before reentering the ballroom. It couldn’t have been more than minute before Doretha was upon him again. “Who is it you were talking to outside?” she asked curiously.
Katherine Wytherine (played by sanahakuryu) Topic Starter

Katherine watched the man go before looking back down at the card. Her parents would probably not mind her having him over. She was, after all, almost old enough for them to potentially disregard her entirely. And they were focused on her brother at the moment, since he was coming of age and would soon be in society. But she felt relieved to know she had found someone who dreaded these events as much as she did.

"Katherine."
Her grandmother's voice shocked her from her thoughts and she turned to look at her, approaching.
"Grandmother."
"I see your sister thought it appropriate to leave you to speak with that man alone."
"We spoke only of his daughter and her music. He'll be coming with her to tea. You can chaperone then," Katherine said to her grand mother before taking her arm to escort her home.

As the days passed by after that, Katherine found herself anticipating the visit. Mainly since she liked being able to talk so openly with someone. Her grandmother was not impressed that there had been a friendship of sorts formed with a formerly married man, but her father and mother had no problem with it so it was allowed. Katherine spent the day that she expected Mr Rutherford and his daughter preparing the terrace for tea to look out over the gardens and connected to the music room's balcony, where he piano had been cleaned and polished to perfection in anticipation of the visit.

The Wytherine manor was a modest home as far as manor houses went. It had neatly manicured gardens, since her mother loved the outdoors and having fresh flowers in the house and the lands rolled into farm land plots and then up into the woodland hunting grounds which were full of rabbits and other game during the autumn. Sometimes, deer even came down from the highlands to graze in the forest. Katherine sat reading in the sitting room, watching out the front window, adjusting her auburn ringlets. Her mother was sat across from her, embroidering a pretty little handkerchief.
I do wish you would have worn the outfit I sent for you, Katherine," she said to her.
"I am comfortable in what I'm wearing, mother," she responded, "besides, pale colours are not the best for me."
Katherine, was of course, happier in richer and darker shades of colour - today she had chosen blue. And in truth, this dress was the most comfortable Katherine had. And she preferred comfort over fashion.
Emily clung to his side as soon as they stepped off the carriage. Edward knew he wasn’t supposed to allow that sort of behavior. Proper manners dictated that she would take his hand and walk side by side with him. In his heart of hearts, though, he enjoyed it. Her warm body pressed against his, saying without words that she trusted him to keep her safe from whatever it was she was afraid of.

Still, he had a responsibility. “Emily, take my hand” he said, his voice coming out colder than he intended. His daughter jerked sideways, head down. Her gloved hand went into his. It wasn’t the same. “Sorry, papa” she mumbled.

“Don’t mumble” he said, though what he wanted to say was ‘you don’t need to apologize’.

They walked up to the entrance. Emily looked up at the building “It's bigger than out house” she noted.

“Yes” he agreed. He was about to reach for the ornate brass knocker when the doors opened before him. Small wonder, someone would have been watching for them.

“Lord Rutherford,” the butler said with a respectful bow. He took Edward’s cane and hat and handed them to a liveried footman “If you’d follow me please”.

Emily’s hand tightened in his and he gave a small, reassuring squeeze back. ‘She’s going to love you’ he wanted to say. But he didn’t. Instead they followed the man in silence, heading to meet Katherine.
Katherine Wytherine (played by sanahakuryu) Topic Starter

“My Lady. Master Rutherford and Miss Rutherford are here,” a maid instructed quietly. Katherine smiled a little.

”I’ll meet them in the lounge. Excuse me, mother,” the young woman said, standing and setting her book to one side before getting up to cross through the house to meet with them. She did pause in the mirror to make sure she looked presentable before stepping out to greet them.

”thank you, Charles. Please go draw the tea,” she instructed the butler who bowed his head before leaving. Katherine looked between the two a moment before giving a deep curtesy, as was proper - ”Mr Rutherford. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance again. This must be Miss Rutherford who you were telling me about,” She said politely, looking to Emily.

She was the spitting image of her mother. No doubt. Katherine could see why he might dote on her even more so. Of course, in her grand home, pretty things like Emily were abound. But Katherine held herself like some restrained wild cat. Beautiful to look at but with an air of dangerous and confident grace. This was, after all, her home. She was more comfortable here than she would be at any party.
Emily gave a perfect little curtsy. “Papa told me I’m allowed to play the piano for you” she said in a soft but eager voice. She gave a sideways glance at her father, who nodded. She took that as a sign to mean it was alright to keep talking. That she was allowed to show her enthusiasm. “I love playing piano. My teacher, Mr. Wilhelm, is very nice, but he says won’t be teaching me much longer now. Papa said you might consider it.”

Edward used the time his daughter chattered excitedly to look at Katherine more boldly than he otherwise would have allowed himself to do. Her dress was fashionably cut, and the color suited her very much. She seemed young suddenly, more so than she seemed at the ballroom. Maybe it was the more comfortable clothing or the fact that she was home, but her face had lost some of the tension it held that night. He hadn’t realized she was so sweet looking.

“Thank you for your time, Lady Wytherine” he said, his voice formal. “Emily has been quite looking forward to this”. Next to him, his daughter nodded her head vigorously. “She’s prepared three pieces for you to…”

“I did!” Emily interrupted him, which he knew he was supposed to scold her for but couldn’t bring himself to do so. “Two etudes and a folk song and…” she dropped her eyes now as well as her voice “I also prepared… something I wrote”. She hadn’t told her father, who she suspected would not approve.
Katherine Wytherine (played by sanahakuryu) Topic Starter

Katherine smiled. She remembered being this young and eager to play piano when people visited. She had always been so eager for it. Now, if people came around, they preferred to talk of other things rather than request she play.

”well that does sound nice, doesn’t it? But I think tea for your father first,” She smiled gently, leading them both through the room and out onto the terrace overlooking the gardens where servers had already set up for tea.

Katherine motioned for them to have a seat before she herself sat, adjusting the folds of her skirt before pouring tea for Edward first, as etiquette dictated - ”I trust your ride up here was pleasant. It’s pretty at this time of year.”
Edward couldn’t help but smile a little, knowing his daughter was disappointed at the delay but that she was determined not to show it. They followed lady Katherine to terrace and sat down. Edward turned his eyes toward the open gardens. They were vast and beautifully maintained. The sweet smell of flowers floated toward them and he felt, oddly enough, calm. He’d always been tense in social situations, but something about this afternoon did not have him ill at ease.

He accepted the tea from his hostess with thanks. Then watched as she poured a cup for Emily as well. “Thank you, milady” his daughter said sweetly, then hurried to correct herself. “I mean, thank you, lady Katherine”. She had so little company outside his own in the past year, her speech has begun to be impacted by their household staff’s. The tranquil feeling vanished as he thought of all the ways he was doing wrong by his daughter. His reclusiveness could taint her life.

“How’ve you been, Lady Katherine?” he asked, attempting civil conversation. He’d be perfectly content to sit there in silence, enjoying the view and the company. But he needed to set a better example.

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