A Truth Universally Acknowledged

Boo Mondays! Or at least this one anyways. It’s just been a day where things either don’t cooperate with me or go the total other direction I was hoping/expecting. Granted they aren’t major things but little things add up so by the end of the day you just feel fed up and a bit defeated and I am well on my way. So I decided to try to write now and hope it could maybe perk me up, or at least put a pause to the less than stellar day.

I am still feeling that pull to period pieces lately. It could stem from the historical romance novel (the one I posted a picture of the cover a few weeks back on a post) I’ve been reading bit by bit, or watching things set back in older periods, or just my general fascination with the fancifulness of it all. Particularly the Regency area, like quiet a few I am a big Jane Austen fan and so reading about the balls and activities and class divisions has always been fun to me. So for today I wanted to try to play around with that concept.

-x-

The hall was packed with people milling about and Charlotte was impressed the floorboards did not creak more, of fully cave in at the traffic. Never had this particular hall been grandiose or elegant but tonight it was draped with fabrics in varying shades of greens, blues, and cotton. Candles lined the room and hung from every possible sconce, creating both a lovely amber glow about the room and multiple opportunities for the night to go up in flames as literal as could be. That was what Charlotte had been expecting for herself as it were so maybe it was perfect that way. She had not taken to these balls and social events like her sisters, Marjorie and Susanne, and brother Johnathan, with any hope her younger brother William would reflect her and when he was old enough to attend with the family they could occupy the corners together.

At her back her mother pushed her farther into the room to fall instep beside Marjorie as Susanne was already across the room talking with her friends in a huddled group. Looking around all Charlotte could see was one dress after another of the girls in the room trying their best to impress any eligible men, and mostly of course the brother of Colin Tanderin who had just returned from time spent a few countries over with distant family. Thomas had been away a few years and his return had been the talk of the area for months followed closely by the ball his brother would be throwing to celebrate his return.

Next to Colin, Thomas was to be a man of considerable wealth with a likely profitable life in the family’s business of book making. Their father, James, had taken over a major publishing house located in the heart of London when both boys were young, he came home out to the country on the weekends as his wife refused to move into the city. Colin had been expected to take over for their father but he instead chose a more quiet life here in the country with his wife Rebecca and they farmed to bring in extra money from the income Colin received yearly. Now with their first child on the way it was time for James to extend the position to Thomas and prime him to take over, hence his return to the country.

So naturally every young woman and their eager mothers put on their best gowns, piled their hair atop their ends, and brushed up on their dancing abilities in hopes to convey their value without actually speaking a word of it. Charlotte understood the necessity of it, being the fourth of five children and the youngest girl especially, but she still found it all exhausting and slightly torturous. Nodding to Marjorie, Charlotte lets her fall into the crowd to find their cousin, and her best friend, Abigail while she weaves her way into a back corner where a nearly empty bench presents itself and with a brush of her skirts flat she sits down, Charlotte has always taken much greater pleasure in watching the floor rather than gracing it herself.

Music plays loudly enough that those lucky enough to have partners can hear and adequately shuffle across the center of the hall floor, if there was less pressure for potential courtship Charlotte would love to be on the floor as dancing is one of her favorite activities to do around the house with her sisters. Instead she takes in the state of dress of those in the room, men dressed in their most clean and well sewn jackets and girls in specifically chosen dresses. She watches as a small cluster of girls in thin, drab-colored, and scantily adorned dresses hide away aware they can’t compare to the elaborate details and bright skirts of others in the room. It’s one of the more stomach turning parts of these balls, Charlotte knows that there is enough fabric to her own gown but it certainly doesn’t have a hoop beneath to make her dress sprout from her body and show to elaborate on the standing of her family. She sees those girls who feel worthless and unwanted but try regardless and hates that society has already dictated their futures.

A heavy weight falls in beside her and Charlotte turns away from these girls to take in her guest. To her surprise it is a young man she isn’t sure she’s ever seen before, yet he feels a bit familiar. His hair is dark and from its state seems to be thick and unruly, but it compliments the combination of green and brown in his eyes that seem to be very set on her own deep blue, almost violet ones. “Good evening.” Charlotte speaks before he can open his mouth.

It causes him to grin wide, his fuller, peach tinted lips to break and showcase the unusually white and good teeth. The man ducks his head slightly and gives her a half nod before raising it fully and looking back into her eyes and speaking, “Good evening.” He paused to run his eyes over her face once more before continuing, “I couldn’t help but notice while most young ladies are shuffling on the dance floor or talking in whispers with their friends you sit here alone.”

Luckily his tone isn’t judging her or chiding her for seeming to be a friendless individual, she’s had that unwanted pity from a man before thinking he was doing her a favor in talking to her. Charlotte narrows her eyes at him, looks to the dancing people and back before she responds, “And how can’t you be sure I didn’t just retire from a marathon of dancing with a multitude of handsome partners.”

His laugh returns but it is pure amusement in the notes not anything but, he taps the air in her direction with a finger as he begins to speak again, “Had you not caught my eye the moment you entered the hall with your family and I watched you steal away to this secluded spot I’d be very willing to believe that handsome suitors were begging a turn with you on the floor left and right.”

Surprising Charlotte wasn’t something many people did and so when his words hit her ears she could feel them instantly flush along with her cheeks and neck at the compliment. But she didn’t let it shake her too fiercely, shaking her head she let out a small laugh of her own and said, “I see, and I suppose you are here to ask my hand for a spin first before any of those men lining up for me can get to me?”

“Precisely.” His answer was swift and sure, “That is if you wish to do so, if dancing is not your pleasure I would be very grateful to sit beside you and hold your company.”

Charlotte had been pursued before,she was a well-looking enough girl to catch the eye of a few gentlemen in the area, but never had she been impressed with their attempts. However this fellow was proving to be one she should not soon forget, the way his voice rang honest with each intention or question followed by the way his eyes continued to leave hers every so often to take in her frame again had her a little riled and feeling a strange tingling in her gut. Taking a deep breath she turned more into his space and gave one of her first genuine smiles of interest at one of these balls while answering, “Both happen to be great pleasures of mine, but I suppose we could start with a dance.”

Another smile reflecting the first he had shown her breaks over his face and the man gracefully stands beside her and extends his left hand towards her. “Excellent. May I lead you to the floor Miss…”

“Charlotte.” She supplies her name for him as her fingers slide across the plains of his soft palm and clutch his hand fully to lift herself up. “Charlotte Bouf.”

Unexpectedly he squeezed her hand in his as he held them between their bodies and led her around people to the floor. Once they were at the edges they effortlessly joined in the lines preparing for the next number, he led her, by the hand still, to stand across from him. The light from all the candles hit his eyes at so many different angles it made it almost impossible to tell their true color, and the way they nearly sparkled at her made it all the more difficult. Charlotte could feel her smile widening under his stare and for once she didn’t feel silly participating in a ball, they bowed to each other as the music sprang up. When they were standing straight once more he spoke again, “It’s nice to meet you Charlotte,” they each take a step in, just like all the couples, so there is barely any space between them and with their faces mere inches apart he grins once more and whispers, “I am Thomas Tanderin.”

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