This is a reposting of this chapter, with some changes made after some helpful reviews.
Enjoy!All Things Prissy
Bong. . . bong. . . bong. The deep bell chimes startled Dru out of her daydream. She was late! She was supposed to be dressed for company right now. She supposed that she gotten lost in her fantasies of adventure and excitement. Dru ran down the steps of the bell tower as fast as she could while pulling her cap low over her eyes and stuffing her stray hairs into it. It was practically forbidden but quite necessary for her to dress like a servant boy. But, if she were caught, she'd be dead, for it would be such a scandal if she had been caught climbing in the bell tower! Not that she would care, but her mother would die! And, with her skirts and corsets she wouldn't have managed it. Dru couldn't even understand how her mother bustled around all day in them!
As she descended the steep steps, Dru thought about her daydreams. When she was little, her father had told her stories about the dazzling feats and heroics of the heroes of the land. He had long since become too busy for such things. Now she amused herself by replacing the heroes with herself. When she could comprehend his impressive tales, she knew she wanted to become a real hero. Of course, her mother wasn't pleased. Dru could still remember her mother's disgust when she came home from the stables on her sixth birthday and told her mother about her mud-filled day.
"Oh Mother, I had so much fun. First, I helped the Thomas and Grant catch the pigs. Then after lunch, Mister Kameron gave my birthday present! He gave me a wooden sword. He special-promised to teach me how to swordfight on horseback too! Can I skip the garden party and bring some cake for the stable boys. Grant said he'd let borrow some of his breeches so I could climb trees with them," Dru had put her most charming smile on, but her mother had just frowned.
"Dear, you know this is your special party. I bought you a pretty dress and a new hair ribbon. These boys sound --- fascinating, but I'm sure you just bother them. They have things to do you know," Lady Berrington had amusedly told her daughter.
"But, Mother. We always have parties. Almost every day. I swear! Please?" Druidanna was heartbroken.
In the end, she snuck out of the party and played with the boys anyways. She ruined the dress and was discovered as soon as she attempted to sneak back into the nursery. Her wooden sword was confiscated and she was banned from being in the stable without a proper escort.
"Lady Druidanna! You are very late. Your mother required your presence in the drawing room ten minutes ago. Hurry!" scolded Mableberry.
"Do I have to wear this dress? I hate it! The stays must be pulled so tight in order for me to fit. Especially after last night's dinner. If I could only be a boy!" huffed Dru, "Their clothes are so much more comfortable!"
"Lady, you know that your only other suitable dress is not clean. Please let me lace you into this one or Lady Berrington will be very vexed. I'm sure you will have a delightful time tonight. Your mother has invited some very respectable young ladies along with their escorts and parents. I've heard that you may find a place in the princess's court in Allian. Wouldn't that be exciting? I think it would be most grand!" simpered Mableberry.
"Alright! I'll wear this dress. Just stop talking about Allian and the Queen! I hear enough from my mother."
"Ooh! Dru! You're very, very late. You've kept the guests waiting. Mother is quite beside herself. I'm sure I will be allowed to take your place at the Queen's ball," gloated Dru's sister, the ever proper Miss Williba, as she caught up to Dru in the foyer.
"Oh be quiet! You know how I hate balls," replied Dru, "I'd be glad if I could miss one. You aren't allowed at the balls anyway. You aren't a Lady Williba for one more year. Speaking of late, where were you? You're just as late as I am."
"I was looking for you." They continued bickering all the way down the hall and only stopped when they were in hearing distance of the company room.
"Girls! I'm so glad you could join us! Ladies, may I present my daughters Lady Druidanna and Miss Williba. My third daughter, Lady Helenaia, is visiting relatives in Caperi Fort and is unable to join us. The men should be back from hunting in about an hour." Not fair! Mother had told Dru that the men had decided against going hunting! Dru knew it was because her mother didn't want her following them. It wasn't proper.
"We can adjourn to the dining room as soon as they return," concluded Lady Berrington.
Dru moaned to herself. The ladies all had their needlepoint projects out. That means she would be sewing, because her mother was ashamed of her current needlepoint project. Sewing was much worse because it was so incredibly mindless! How did her sister, Naia, get so lucky? She gets to miss this boredom. But then again, Naia is the perfect daughter and has found herself the perfect husband and can still enjoy her perfect life. Since her husband is in the Royal Navy, she has the freedom of the married and the unmarried! And Willi – she'll find someone suitably rich and in a suitable social standing and be happy. Dru, on the other hand, believed that if her mother had her way, she would be married off to a rich man who would keep her in line and out of the way. In her mind, Dru had already planned various escapes from the manor to evade this particular type of torture.
"Mother, may I please continue my drawing rather than sewing on this gown?" Dru inquired, "Miss Williba would do a much better job on it anyway. She has such wonderful skill when it comes to sewing and needlepoint." She couldn't believe how much she was sucking up! Willi would never let her live this down! Oh well, it was worth it. She was almost finished with a quite accurate drawing of the peacocks and the monkey that lived in the garden. Of course, she only included the peacocks to satisfy her mother. It was the monkey that was truly interesting. It was so different from anything she had seen before. Her father had brought it when he returned from a capture of a faraway land in the name of the king. He said that they were only found in the jungle where they lived on fruit. The monkey was so cute with its little baby-like face complete with chubby little cheeks. It had a long furry tail that was almost twice as long as its body. It chattered at her from the tree where it lived. And the stable boys said that it could repeat things if the phrase was repeated often enough.
"No dear. That dress must be finished for the Queen's ball, which is twenty days hence and all of the lace and embroidery hasn't even been started!"
"But that's what the seamstress we hired is for! Why can't she sew it?"
"You get more satisfaction when you sew a dress yourself. Besides, it's coming along quite nicely." Dru's mother gave her a look that told Dru to shut up and get to work. Making a scene in front of guests was one of Lady Berrington's greatest annoyances.
"So, the Queen's ball is going to be quite a gala. It is said that she will be surveying the young ladies who might be in the princess's court. Our daughters are already guaranteed a spot and we have put in a good word for Lady Druidanna. Wouldn't that be fabulous if all the girls were there together?" gloated the mother of the blonde-haired wench, Lady Genevieve. The two girls, obviously in the same social circle gave each other a satisfied look, and then went back to their needlepoint.
"Why don't I excuse you girls to go sit in the other company room? Then you can chat together while us mothers discuss other things," suggested Lady Berrington.
"Oh! Would you? That would be absolutely grand! Wouldn't it girls?" Dru played the part of the perfect host, though she didn't feel it.
Once in the other room, Dru sat uncomfortably in an armchair as Lady Genevieve and her friend, Lady Francine, gossiped about London's best society. Miss Williba hung onto every word they said. If she had paper she would have taken notes.
"Could you believe Harriet's dress the other evening? It was hideous! That fabric was far too green for her complexion."
"Oh and her hair! It was revolting. Since when does one put toy bird eggs in one's hair? I definitely wouldn't."
"Lady Druidanna!" the two girls turn their interest to a different subject as fast as they began their gossiping, "If you are chosen for the princess's court we would be delighted! You seem quite sweet, if a tad rough around the edges. Nothing we can't fix though. We'll be like big sisters to you!" giggled Francine and Genevieve. This statement was quite ridiculous considering that they were the same age as her.
"Just the other day, when our dear mothers told us we would be visiting you, we were thinking about you," Francine continued.
"Yes, and we were remembering all of the magnificent parties that your mother has given. Of course, one in particular stood out in our memory. I believe it was a garden party in honor of your father's return," Genevieve looked thoughtfully at the mantle as she delicately furrowed her eyebrows.
"That was the one Vievie! Such a shame. You were sick, don't you remember? You were unable to attend!"
Druidanna was trying to read between the lines of their carefully orchestrated conversation. Were they merely making conversation, or did they have an ulterior motive? She also remembered that party very well. She very clearly remembered the dark green velvet dress her mother had ordered especially for this event. It wasn't a long dress, because she was still underage, only thirteen. Short dresses were to be worn until a girl turned sixteen. But it was very expensive and fashionable. Dru also remembered that the day before the party, she had learned to fight with a sword on horseback. Of course, this was only possible because she had bargained with her instructor. She would attend the next hunt in a proper dress and ride sidesaddle the entire way, if she could learn to fight on a horse.
She was so excited with her feat, that she had made plans to attend the Harvest Festival in the nearest town the next day with the stableboys. The party completely left her head. The next day they had left early without alerting anyone. Dru rolled her eyes at her young naiveté. Upon arriving home once again in the early evening, Dru had come upon the party in full swing. No one had noticed her thankfully, but her mother soundly rebuked her after the party. Her father's gift of archery lessons was taken away. Lady Berrington had never approved of them, but her father, on his rare visit home, insisted that any real hero needed to know archery.
"It was a lovely party if I may remember correctly. By the by, do you have an escort for the upcoming season? Or do you change escorts as is common? Our escorts are quite fine this evening. Well actually, Lord Dennhan is my betrothed and Lord Trently will be asking Lady Vievie's father for her hand any day now! Isn't that exciting?" gushed Lady Francine. Dru didn't care one whit. Her mind was in the stables wandering by each horse and calling them by name. The girls were quite revolting. Dru found it very apparent that their mothers had prompted them on how to behave this entire evening.
Finally! The evening is over! Dru thought as she said the final goodbyes and gracious hostess comments. Dinner was incredibly dreary. The escorts were boring and rather ugly and old. Lord Trently was the age of Dru's father and Lord Dennhan was not much younger! Everyday was like this. Lady Berrington invited people like this over every night so that Dru would see that most young girls are getting married or betrothed. As Dru drifted off to sleep, she thought "If only Mother would just understand that I am not 'most young girls'! I just don't want to be like that!"
A/N: Don't forget to review!! wink wink And if you have a suggestion for a title, they would be appreciated.