“I don’t think I’m ready for this…” I said peeking out of the carriage like a child glaring at the doorstep of a dentist.
“Oh nonsense! You’re beyond ready! You’re a royal, and should have this ‘socializing’ thing down packed”The Duchess Chrstine McAllister Pearse….the most dangerous read-headed woman in a bustle this side of the Steamlands…my dearest friend. This afternoon, however, my greatest foe as she drags me possibly kicking and screaming from the buggy and onto the cobblestone walk of the little flat outside Palisade.
“I think I am going to be sick…” I muttered.
“Oh it’s just the corset, you’ll get used to it in a minute.” She smiled fixing her make-up slightly and eyeing those sculpted red curls of hers.
“Why am I doing this again? You hate me don’t you? I hate blue…I need my eyepatch…” I turned to her pleading slightly, my bangs used to cover the fact I had only a socket where an eye once set.
“Oh stop, stop, stop! This is is the BEST way I can help you. You -did- ask me for my help now didn’t you?”
“I refuse to let it happen again…” I said adjusting the bodice slightly, trying to tug the corset from about my waist. I swear it was drawn tighter than when I used to live in this city…swear it.
Christine sighed and closed her compact before looking to me with a generous smile. “It takes patience to deal with people dear, an emaculate facade is what really seperates the wretched women of this world from the proper wretched women of this world,” she smiled fixing that wide brimmed hat of hers and smoothing her skirts she rapped upon the door of the mannor. My heart sank with each knock and I knew that I could run back to the buggy, knock the coachman from his purch, and take off in seconds…if I didn’t have this corset on.
A rather hefty woman answered it with much flurish that I wasn’t sure if I was looking at an oversized feather duster…or a circus clown.
“Your grace! So glaaaddd you could make it!”
“Thank you Miss Penny, I’ve come with my dear friend, Bianca Namori to join Mrs. Weasleton for tea!”
I still felt like I was going to be sick…
“Yes! Yes of course, right this way ladies. Will I be taking your hat Mrs. Pearse?”
“Not neccessary my dear, I’ll remove my self later.”
“Very good ma’m! Come along! Tea was just poured.”
Still not getting any less sick…
“Marvelous! Come along Bianca,” Christine said crooking her arm with mine far too tightly to ensure me that I had no choice in the matter anyway, and I followed like a lamb to the slaughter.
The women in the room rose and greated us, chattering away like plump quail in their overdressed attire. I wanted to slink into a shell somewhere…possibly even scream. Was this blasted corset getting tighter?!
“Ah Duchess Pearse,” one turkey of a woman stated after we took our seats, and I watched as Christine gave her a very delicate smile and listened intently. “I see you have a guest with you today, tell me, is this woman a servant girl of yours?”
My hairs stood on end…
“You silly women of course not! This my dear ladies is the elegance of the desert, her ROYAL Highness, Bianca Fatima Namori, Sultana of Mondrago.”
The women gasped and looked at me as if they had seen a ghost, a hand on my leg that gave me a squeeze singled me that all was well with these hens, they where simply stunned. How did I know that? Christine gave me a play by play on the body language of hers I needed to read.
A tug of her ear meant that the woman she was talking to was an idiot and giving her a headache. A “sniffle” was she thought the woman a lost cause of a sob case. A flutter of her lashes meant the woman was blowing air up her bustle and was one to avoid giving too much info too…oh and the clearing of the throat was a single for me to speak up because I’ve been quiet far too long.
The tea however continued, and I could see what she meant by this being a form of “endurance” training. I had to focus on my breathing in this corset, get to know the names of who was who within the room, and remember them, and a constantly bridle my tongue when such slurrs regarding my heritage where ignorantly loosed.
The noon turned into early evening, and the ladies dismiessed themselves along with Christine and myself. The ride back towards New Babbage was quiet…for about two minutes before the elegant duchess turned into an angry woman ready to rip off her garb and throw buggies around town.
“The NERVE of those blasted #*%!& women! I can’t belieeeve them! Did you believe–I can’t believe them!”
I couldn’t help but smile when she was finished though. She was an amazing woman, with amazing will-power and well tailored to be amazingly…brash when need be. She would of made a great councilman in Mondrago, and probably turn fresh grapes into wine with a good talking too. Yet silk could not touch this womans smooth and delicate nature when it came to handling what I simply couldn’t before. Vendictive, spiteful, and lonely old crows that caw around Babbage looking for the next bit of joy or flesh they can consume before moving on still unsatisfied…
Oh Mondrago…hearing of you isn’t as hard anymore…and after having to pour you before those people, I doubt I should feel any remorse in your name at all…You where beautiful. You where heartache upon heartache…you where home.
Now that I think of you though…I realize it wasn’t your fault you are no more…it was his.
My thoughts ended with Christine quizzing me on the evening on whom was whom, what was what, and how I felt throuughout the entire ordeal. Answering them to her satisfaction she asked me one more as I stepped from the buggy, after thanking her for the afternoon.
“Well dear, if anything what ELSE did you learn of all this?” she smiled warmly and sat up straight as an arrow in her seat.
I thought for a moment…then a moment more before saying with as much finery as the women around me this evening spoke with…though my accent stilll betrayed who I was…
“Patience is a virture, the companion of wisdom…and much needed when dealing with the women of this world…in a corset.”