" .God!" Edward, come upstairs at once!" Caroline shouted loudly.
One minute later, Edward scramble upstairs, and into the room Caroline was in. Holding his composure he asked "What is it Lady Caroline?"
" What is it? WHAT IS IT? Well, take a look for yourself!" Caroline pointed out of the window. Slowly, Edward approached the window and looked outside, and yet, he could see nothing wrong.
"Lady Caroline, what exactly is the problem?"
All he saw was the new flowers in the lawn. Planted this morning by himself.
" Ha! YOU don't see the problem do you? Worthless butler! I don't even know why father hired you! Can't you SEE WITH YOUR EYES? You planted the wrong color of flowers! It's suppose to be RED flowers, NOT pink ones!" Caroline crossed her arms and started pacing around the room. She suddenly stopped and threw her arms out in frustration.
" Now, what do we do? Felicity! Come this instant!"
Edward cleared his throat. "Lady Caroline, is it really necessary to call your sister? If it's that big a problem, I can change the flowers."
Felicity came through the doors, dressed in her night gown because she was sleeping before.
" Is there a problem Caro?" She asked softly and yawned.
" Feli, perfect timing! Be a good girl and look out the window. Tell me what you see!"
Felicity walked across the room, bare foot and looked out.
" Oh! Look Caro! There are new flowers in the lawn! It's perfect for the spring and now butterflies can come!" She started dancing around the room, singing a melody no one has ever heard of before. Edward couldn't resist and smiled at Felicity. Caroline saw him smile.
" Don't smile at her!" Caroline snapped, face all red. " Felicity! They are certainly not 'good for spring'! Remember father specifically asked for the red ones?"
" Oh, but Caroline, it's not all that bad! Pink works nicely too, and I'm sure father wouldn't mind." Felicity said cheerfully.
"UGH! I'm stuck with stupid bloody idiots!" She screamed.
Caroline glared at Edward, held up her dress up so she could walk, and stormed out. Felicity looked at Edward guiltily . He seemed to have noticed and gave her a warm smile.
" It's alright Miss Felicity, I will go change the flowers. I don not want a complaint going to your father. Now, be a good girl and go back to bed."
" Thank you Edward. I shall right away." She curtsied and scurried out of the room, leaving Edward watching her out.
" Fe-li-ci-ty!" Come up stairs now!" Called Caroline.
When Felicity heard the voice of her sister, she ran upstairs and into Caroline's room. Caroline hates waiting so Felicity learned how to swiftly run around the house. She sled to a stop in front of Caroline's room, fluffed her dress, and walked in.
"You called Caro?" She asked cautiously, not seeing her about.
" Yes, yes my little Felicity! Coming."
Felicity saw her sister come out from behind her closet, only wearing her corset. In her hands were two dresses.
" Now, which one should I wear?" Caroline asked, bring each dress to her body, looking in the mirror.
" But Caro, we aren't going anywhere special today, why do you want to dress like so?" Noticing both dresses were extremely fancy.
" Felicity Burlinton! You should know better then to ask these silly questions all the time. But since I am the oldest and also the most beautiful... I am beautiful right Feli?"
Felicity thought it was more like a statement then a question but she said, " Yes Caro! You are very beautiful! Even close to the queen herself!"
Caroline smiled at that, and continued talking.
" I know, I am beautiful, I am, I am so! Anyways, you should know that a lady must show specific features. Do you know what those are Feli? Grace, beauty and perfection. yes those are the qualities an earl or general wants as a wife. A future husband wants a woman who can dress correctly, dance with grace, and show perfection! Learn from me Feli, and you will succeed like me! Now, which dress would be appropriate?"
When Edward finished re-planting, he took a step back and admired his work. Even if it took him quiet sometime to go back to the store, re-buy the proper flowers, and return back to the Burlinton's house, making Lady Caroline happy was a priority to his master, or the Lady's father.
Since his master was almost always away to Paris for meetings, Edward was responsible for both girls. He greatly enjoyed the job. He remembered when he was hired. Before he turned into the Burlinton's butler, he was working for a small bakery near the outskirts of town. Suddenly, the thought about many memories he had since he got the job. When Caroline was a small child and Felicity a new born baby. Edward watched them grow up. When they got to wear their first proper dress, when Felicity turned 5 years old. He sighed from the thought. All were very happy memories and he was glad to have them.
"Edward?" A voice called, interrupting his thoughts. Edward turned around towards the house and saw Miss Felicity behind an open window.
" Yes, Miss Felicity?" He called back. "Do you need assistance of any sort?"
" Yes. May you come in and make me supper?"
" Of course Miss Felicity. It is my job to do so. Please wait a moment."
He put back the broomstick in the outdoor shed and quickly went inside to Felicity.
After Caroline finished her supper, she decided to make sure the flowers were all in order. It wasn't like she had something else to do. She left the table without being excused and opened the door to the lawn.
" Lady Caroline? May I ask why you go?" Edward asked
" To the lawn Edward. Making sure there are no problems."
" Would you like me to accompany you Lady Caroline?" He said ignoring her comment.
" Not at all. I don't want to be bothered."
" As you wish, but if you need my help Lady Caroline, I will be-"
" I shan't need your help." She retorted and slammed the door shut.
One of the only things Caroline liked was fresh air. Even thought she loved the atmosphere of first class parties and flower scents, the outdoors always reminded her of her childhood. Caroline was not born in England. She grew up in the country. She had a different father before, her mother and her old father got divorced. Caroline was a small child back then, so she never understood what was happening. But soon her mother fell in love again, making her and Caroline move to the exotic world of England to live with her new father. It happened a long time ago. It was before Felicity was born. Before she was forced to change…
A small gust of wind blew in her face, giving her goose bumps. Not wanting to go back inside to retrieve her coat, Caroline gently pulled her silk gloved a bit higher up her arm. She looked up at the sky and gazed at the moon. She was always fascinated by the stars. She would always wonder why they shined, and where they came from. How could we see them from here and how many are there? But whenever she asked all these questions, she always remembered the dark side of this wonder.
" You stupid child!" she recalled her mother scream. " How dare you not want to carry the gift of becoming a proper women? The purpose of moving to England was to make you someone important, and you want to waste it all for a few stars?"
Caroline chocked back a sob in her throat.
" Yes mama..." she had whispered, and flinched when her mother slapped her in the face. Caroline still remembered the sting she felt and gingerly touched the spot were her mother had strike her so long ago.
Suddenly, her mother realized her daughter was heartbroken and pitied her. Caroline's mother gently cupped her cheek as to try and comfort her.
" My darling," she said "I know it's hard to fit in after so many years in the country. But marrying your father was for the best. He is really a gentlemen when you get to know him. England is very high class my dear and I want what's best for my daughter. Do your mama a favor could you sweetheart?"
" What is it mama?" Caroline asked.
" Do not talk about anything not suitable for a regular conversation in London. Try and observe the others. How they walk, talk, everything. That would mean giving up your stars. Do you promise me Caroline? Promise me." Her mother's voice was serious for a moment.
"I shan't speak of stars again." replied Caroline, working hard to contain her tears, but a tear escaped and rolled down her cheek.
" Good enough." Caroline decided as she analyzed the flower patch. It was obvious that Edward went great lengths to satisfy her, and she was grateful in a way. She bent down, making sure her dress would not get soled and took a deep breath. She exhaled gratefully and got back up.
She stared at the red flowers, noticing every detail. Like how the light of the moon just lightly kissed the delicate petals, making the flowers look... unreal. Caroline knew that the flowers were real, but it looked artificial somehow. It seemed like the flower was too perfect. Even the leaves and stems did not show their flaws in color and shape. She stared and stared, seeking the answer to why they looked so fake. It hit her all of a sudden. The flowers demonstrate the way a women of England is suppose to be like. Beautiful. Graceful. Perfect. Does it mean that ladies in England are fake? Unreal? Artificial? It maybe so. If you have ever looked around any busy street in London, all the real ladies wore fashionable clothing. They walked here and there with the grace of a swan. Like fake flowers. Always showing perfection.
As a young woman of this time, they have no power, hardly any rights. All they are trained for is learning the ways and rules of a lady. To talk and smile whenever told to, and have small talk about the weather. To dress nicely with clothing so tight, you can hardly breath and wear jewels. It is a paradox. No escape.
Caroline suddenly got frustrated. With a swift motion, she kicked off her shoes and walked bare foot on the grass. It was cool to the touch but oddly placed herself on a bench and played with a loose thread from her gloves. Ungracefully, she yanked it out and dropped it on the ground. She enjoyed not being proper for once.
" You are going to pick that little string up aren't ya sweetheart?" said a voice from right behind her. Caroline jumped to her feet in surprise. She swung her head behind her to see who it was.
A boy, she discovered, about the same age as her. His hair was cut short, but he had many curls. His skin color was slightly tanned, possibly meaning he was not born in England. He was wearing clothes so filthy, she could clean it in mud and make it look better. Caroline observed him from head to toe before speaking.
" Who are you? How did you get here?" she demanded.
The boy leaned on a tree close to where she was standing.
"The name's Nicholas. I found a crack in that fancy fence of yours, came to check this place out." He's eyes glanced around. " Pretty nice, if you asked me."
Caroline stubbornly crossed her arms.
" You have no right being here. If you do not leave, I shall have to call for someone to escort you out, Mister Nicholas."
To her surprise, he chuckled. " You can really drop the lady act on me girly. It's probably not you're usual behavior."
" How do you know this is not my usual behavior? I fit perfectly in England for your information!"
" I can tell by your lovely shoes." he said and winked.
Caroline looked down and noticed as well, she wasn't wearing any. Caroline kicked them off a few minutes ago. It was very improper. Feeling self-cautious, she asked " So you are an expert in who fits and who doesn't?"
" Actually, yes. Since I was born outside, I know who belongs in this world and who doesn't. England ain't as dolled up as it sounds like isn't it... lady."
" Caroline." She replied to the unspoken question, " The name is Caroline."
" Caroline eh?"
" What is so wrong about that?" she snapped.
" Nothing. It's nothing..."
They both stood there awkwardly before Caroline broke the silence.
" You still did not tell me why you stand in my property."
" I need... help, I guess." he told her shyly.
" What is it? What is it, that you must come to my lawn at night to ask for my help?"
Nicholas locked eyes with her. His eyes were blue she noticed. So blue, it looked like an ocean. Caroline blushed and looked away. A lady should never make direct eye contact with a stranger. She wondered what Nicholas wanted, but she had good idea of what that would be.
" You shall need a story to tell my butler." she said.
Nicholas flinched, like he was surprised.
" Beg your pardon?"
" If you want to stay at my house, you need a reason for it. A good reason." she said slowly, letting her words sink into his mind. She saw Nicholas looking at her house. She could tell he craved for the warmth.
" Um... I do not know any good story." he said sadly.
" Do not bother.. Nicholas. I can make something up myself."
Caroline walked back to her shoes and quickly put them back on and continued her way back towards her house. She stopped and noticed Nicholas was not following her. She looked back and saw him watching her. Caroline placed her hands on her hips.
" Are you bloody coming or not?" she snapped, clearly irritated. It had been a long night.
" Coming... I'm coming.." he replied, voice shaky.
He walked behind her and wondered what will happen next.
Edward was washing the dishes when he heard the doors to the lawn open.
" Lady Caroline?" he called out, " Is that you?"
" Yes Edward, c'est moi! And I brought something back with me."
Edward wondered if it was the flowers. He was definitely sure he planted them to perfection, but with Lady Caroline, there is no guarantee about anything. When he turned around, he saw Caroline with... a boy. Certainly not a flower.
" Lady Caroline, and..." Edward raised an eyebrow at the boy's direction. Caroline cleared her throat, signaling Nicholas to introduce himself.
" Um... My name is Nicholas. How do you do?" He took a step forward and raised his hand. Edward slowly took it and they shook hands.
" So, Nicholas," Edward said," What brings you here so late in the night?"
Nicholas looked like he could melt into the ground. Caroline took pity on him and stepped in.
" Nicholas is my friend's... cousin. She asked me if we could offer him a place to stay."
" Is that so? May you explain why your friend was unable to care for him?"
" Oh, you see Edward, they are on vacation right now. They are traveling to New York if you must know."
" I have no objections Lady Caroline, but why have you not told me sooner?"
" I simply forgot." Caroline's tone was demanding him to drop the discussion.
" Well, the Caroline will show you around the house. I am sure there is a guest room you may borrow. If you need my assistance, I am yours."
Then Edward bowed and left the room.
Felicity heard her sister's voice from across the hallway.
" This is the restroom, this is the dinning room, that's my bedroom, this is Felicity's bedroom, th-"
" Felicity?" She heard another voice asked. It was obviously a male but not Edward's or father's.
" Felicity is my younger sister. Felicity! Come out and meet someone." Caroline yelled ungracefully.
On cue, Felicity opened her door and stood face to face with a boy she never meet before. He had short curly brown hair with the most beautiful blue eyes she ever saw. He looked about the Caroline's age but something about him made him different from other gentlemen she has meet before. Remembering her manners, Felicity curtsied and said a polite " How do you do?"
The boy smiled and introduced himself. He says his name is Nicholas. I said my name was Felicity and blushed with embarrassment. Caroline just told him her name. Maybe, I was caught up in his blue eyes...
" Get him some clothes would you Feli? Oh, and show him where to change and then bring him to a guest room. I have something to do." Caroline left without a confirmation from Felicity, leaving her with Nicholas.
" Well, come on Nicholas," Felicity said, " We must find you some clothing. Follow me!"
After Nicholas wished everyone goodnight, he crawled into his bed. Nicholas sighed with pleasure. The bed was certainly more comfortable than the alleys of England.
The truth was that his mother and father abandoned him when he was around nine years old. He remembered them telling him to sleep in the barn that night because his room was too cold. Nicholas was a very obedient child and never questioned his parents. In the morning, the house was empty. They moved without him. Nicholas always wondered why they did this to him. Truthfully, he had no idea. He wondered how long it would take Caroline to dump him out of the house... He didn't belong anywhere anyways.
"Sweet dreams" he murmured to himself and fell into a tunnel of darkness.
" Felicity is turning twelve years old today Nicholas! We must buy her a present at once!" Caroline shouted in front of Nicholas's room. A few moments later, he opened his door.
" What took you so long?" She complained.
" You did." he joked " Come on, let's go before Felicity wakes up."
They gathered everything they needed to go out. Before leaving the house, Caroline told Edward what the plan was. " Edward, NIcholas and I are going now to buy Felicity a present. We are taking the carriage to town."
" Be careful Lady Caroline, Mister Nicholas. Please be home before dark."
" Of course, till then."
They rode in silence for most of the time. Both Nicholas and Caroline enjoyed looking outside and admired the scenery.
" I believe spring is the best season." Caroline announced, " It's just so beautiful!"
" Really?" Nicholas said, " You don't mind all the mud and rain?"
" I guess I should, but it doesn't bother me so much."
" Aren't you worried you would get your clothes dirty?"
" It can be washed right? Why do you ask?"
" Nothing. It's nothing."
Nicholas noticed Caroline tensed up when they got off the carriage.
" Are you alright Caroline?" He asked.
" Um.. Maybe you should call me Lady Caroline for now." She replied hesitantly.
" Well, people do not normally address someone without being proper on the streets."
" Oh..." Nicholas sounded disappointed.
Caroline gave him a warm smile. " Well, let's not waste time. I know the perfect place!"
Caroline and Nicholas walked into an art store. The walls were filled with drawings and paintings. Someone came up to them. " Good day Miss, Mister. Do you need anything?"
" Yes, do you have an art set with color pencils and sketch paper?" Caroline asked politely.
" Of course, please wait a moment." And with that, the women left them and walked to the back of the store.
" Wow, I never knew Felicity-"
" Miss Felicity!" Caroline snapped. When she saw Nicholas flinch, she felt humiliated. Caroline looked swiftly around them, like she was making sure no one was around to hear her. " Sorry... Nicholas. I did not mean to snap as I did."
Before Nicholas could respond to anything, the women at the counter reappeared with a box. " Here you go Miss. Color pencils and sketch paper. That would be two pounds.
Nicholas gasped at the price. It was dreadfully expensive. But Caroline just took her purse out and paid the money without saying anything.
" Thank you Miss," said the women, " Have a nice spring day! Or at least try too, it is awfully rainy and muddy these days."
" It is pretty awful isn't it." Caroline said, agreeing with the lady.
Nicholas thought it was odd. Didn't she just tell her she loved this weather? But he didn't say anything, just so he didn't complicate matters. Nicholas and Caroline both said quick goodbyes and left the store.
As they walked back to the carriage, it started to rain. Instantly, you could see many people rushing about, calling a carriage or finding shelter.
" We must hurry Mr. Nicholas!" Caroline squeaked, " I do not want Felicity's gift getting wet!"
They dropped into their seats with exhaustion as the carriage started to move. Both were just slightly wet, Felicity's gift dry.
" Well, that was exhilarating!" Caroline huffed and gave a weak smile.
" Yes, quiet." Nicholas said, equally as tired.
" I can't wait to see Felicity's face when she get's her present. She is a fine artist I have to admit."
" She probably is." he said, " Caroline, I need to ask you something."
But Caroline did not reply. He looked over to her and discovered she was already sleeping. He smiled. Leaving her in peace, he decided to save all his questions for later. Leaving him wondering.
Caroline found Nicholas lying on the grass of their lawn. He has been in their home for almost three months. Caroline and Felicity started treating him like a brother. Edward now felt more comfortable with another man in there house. Even her father agreed to let him stay as long as he wanted.
" What are you thinking about?" Caroline asked him, hovering on top of his face.
" How did you know I was thinking and not just playing dead?" he said back playfully.
" You were using your thinking face." She replied, " I have seen you like that many times before.
" Well, it was true. That I was thinking..." he acknowledged.
" About what?" She wondered.
" You." He said, suddenly serious.
" What about me?" Caroline said, growing curious.
" How you make me wonder."
Caroline sat down on the bench close to him.
" Explain yourself if you may."
Nicholas sighed and looked at her.
" It would be long." He warned.
" The day is young." She answered.
He took a breath and began. " Since the day I meet you, you felt... different to me. You didn't really act like the other people I know. Yes, of course you looked like them, but I never really believed you felt like them. You know why? Because you have personality Caroline. Something unique. You were not born in England, so why bother trying to fit in? Why bother become a dainty flower - all small and sweet - when you can become a tree?"
Caroline spoke very carefully, choosing her words. " What are you trying to say Nicholas?"
" I know you don't want to be a lady Caroline. I know. I know. You would rather spend all your time with the sky."
Caroline gasped. " Who told you?" She demanded.
" No one. I always look at you at night. I see the way you look at the sky. How you would sometimes draw shaped out of it, finding pictures or patterns. How you admire it so much."
She was speechless. No one has ever mentioned this since the day with her mother. Not until now. Her passion for the sky was her secret.
Caroline opened her mouth but then closed it, being interrupted by Nicholas.
" Also, I've seen the way you act to other people. When you speak to them, you always give an artificial smile. You always make sure your dress was perfect, all ruffled and what not. You always talked with another voice, and breath lies. Like that time with the art store. Instead of listening to the real you, all I hear now is a stupid normal proper lady." He spat out.
" And what is so wrong with that?" Caroline asked, suddenly in rage, " that is what you must do to fit in!"
"That is what I'm so confused about!" He yelled with frustration. " Let me ask you one question Caroline, let me ask you something." Nicholas took a deep breath.
" Do you like the ways of England? And I am asking how you truly feel."
There was complete silence.
Then Caroline spoke. " No." She said softly.
" Then why change yourself? Why bother?"
" Because, it's the only way! I now belong here. This is my home now, and what I am suppose to be!" She cried out, " It is a paradox Nicholas! No way out. I am destined to be a lady! You can't change or escape it. Never, never, never."
Suddenly, tears streamed down her face, but she didn't care. It was tears she had held back when she was a child. Caroline realized that she could never become what she wanted to be.
" I knew it." Nicholas said, loud enough just so she could hear it.
Caroline looked up at Nicholas.
" I thought you were special. Truly different. I believed I finally found someone that was the same as me. I thought you were strong enough to break free, but clearly... You can't. You aren't strong enough." He whispered.
" Nicholas..." She said between tears that became sobs. She got up and tried to hold his arm, but he moved away.
" Don't." he said, " just don't.
Caroline wiped tears with the back of her hand. " But-"
" I thought we were connected!" He blurted out. " I thought that, whenever I was with you, or when you were with me, we felt the same. An outcast, but together. I knew I was wrong. I knew it! But I had to try..."
Nicholas turned around and started walking away. Not towards the house, but towards the street.
" Nicholas! Where are you going?" Caroline shouted.
" Away from here." He did not stop walking.
Caroline ran towards him and stopped right in from of him.
" Why all a sudden you leave?" There was desperation in her voice.
" Because I realized I do not belong here. Belong in this world. Your world."
Nicholas moved Caroline out of the way and continued walking.
" Why did you stay for so long then?" She called out, " why go through all this trouble for nothing?"
He stopped in his tracks and only turned his head around. Looking at her with those ocean blue eyes.
" I tried to fit in Caroline, I did, but this," he waved his hand around showing the atmosphere. " This, is not my destiny, my world. It is yours."
Silence stretched between them.
" Now," he said, breaking the silence," I must move on. Leave and find a place where I belong. This is goodbye Caroline. I cannot change who you are, what you believe in, but I always want you to think. Where do you really belong? Do you fit in with the flowers? Or with the trees? At the end, you always choose."
With those final words, he left. She watched him walk farther and farther away. He had his hands in his pocket, kicking a rock. She watched him until he disappeared from her vision. Away from her life, forever. Caroline could not hold he weight of her body and fell on to her knees, soiling her entire dress with mud.
" Don't go..." She whispered into the wind, but she already knew it was too late.
Caroline stayed on her knees and cried until her sister came out.
" Caro?" She asked, her voice panicked and filled with worry. Felicity has never saw her sister cry before.
" I'm fine Felicity." She said, still looking in the direction where Nicholas left. Her voice was chocked. Face red and tear stained.
" Let's go inside now. It is getting dark." Felicity gently covered Caroline with a blanket and lead her back towards the house. She knew what happened, but she would never say a thing.
At night, Caroline replayed the whole scene back in her head. Thinking and re-thinking about what he said.
'You were not born in England, so why bother trying to fit in? Why bother become a dainty flower - all small and sweet - when you can become a tree?'
'I thought you were special. Truly different. I believed I finally found someone that was the same as me. I thought you were strong enough to break free, but clearly... You can't. You aren't strong enough.'
Was it true? she thought and sighed. Caroline got out of bed, and looked out the window. But she couldn't think about stars tonight. She only thought about Nicholas. Nicholas, Nicholas, Nicholas. The only thing she was feeling, was regret.
When Caroline walked downstairs, it seemed like Nicholas was completely forgotten. She looked in the kitchen and saw Edward per paring breakfast.
" Good morning Lady Caroline!" He said cheerfully.
" Morning." She mumbled back.
" Are you excited today?" He asked.
" You could not have forgotten could you? Your father will return home today. I am sure you are delighted by the news."
" Oh," she said, half-heatedly " Good news."
I think of him every day, every night. I wondered where he was. He was a big part of my life, even if I hardly knew him. Even if six years had already passed by, I remembered him. I still remembered his face. Brown curly hair and ocean blue eyes. The way he talked. Everything.
" My dear?" A voice interrupted my thoughts. I turned around to see who it was. My husband. In his hands was a letter. I smiled at him.
" Is that for me?" I asked.
" Yes sweetheart, a letter from your sister."
" Thank you." I managed to say as I swiftly opened the letter. He kissed me on the cheek and left me alone in peace.
' Dear my beloved sister,
Greetings Caro! How have you been? With all my heart I miss you dearly. Even Edward misses you! But I knew one day, you would get married and leave. I am sincerely happy that you married an earl, just like you imagined! The house is surprisingly quiet now. Just me, Edward and father, but it is fine with me. I usually spend my time in the lawn. Painting. I believer L will become an artist. My first picture will be of you. The most perfect, graceful and beautiful woman ever! I do hope you write back if you get the chance.
Felicity Berlinton '
I put the letter down. I dearly missed Felicity very much, and I will write back as soon as possible. I think of the life Felicity will have. Free, and relaxing. She did not pursue becoming a lady like me. And I am glad that she didn't, in a way. Being a lady was were she did not belong. I now think about my life. I will have children. Host parties. Nothing that special to me anymore. Truthfully, I believed I made a mistake. I never really wanted to be in a life like this, but what was done was done and there is no more changing or going back. I can only deal with what I have now. I think about Nicholas, and finally realized where I really belonged after all.