Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
Penny for your thoughts.She descended the stairs with her chin raised and her shoulders back. She could feel the heavy drag on her weighty dress as it slipped over the steps behind her. She put one foot down on the step below, then another. She was determined to make it to the bottom. She would not slip or stumble or forget not to look at her feet or grip the banister with a white knuckled hand. She longed for the last few steps to reach her feet. There she could be done with her entrance and the staring, judgmental eyes from societies gossips and excuse herself for a quiet minute to steel her nerves.
Lady Penelope was, of her own admittance, what one would call a ‘late bloomer’. At 20 years of age one would be expected to be on the brink of marriage and motherhood by now. Societies standards were set in the lofty clouds as far as Penny was concerned. Unreachable and therefore unworthy of a considerable amount of effort on her part. Her skinny frame complete with long fingers and wiry legs suited Penny for what she liked to do best, in her unguarded moments. Run, explore, move and enjoy the outdoors. The wind around her constantly in a fluid state of movement, the leaves responding to its invitation to join in. The wild flowers nodding their heads in approval and the rush and babble of streams claiming they were already in the merry dance.
Her usually wavy and tangled locks were currently in a neat dark brown bundle at the base of her neck. With her hair pulled away from her face her features were unshielded and open to scrutiny from others. Her cheekbones were set high, with chocolate brown eyes that matched the tones of her hair. Her skin was a creamy white in the current light of the ballroom. If she were where she wanted to be, her checks would be flushed with pink and skin lightly tanned from spending much time out of doors.
Abby had done wonders in making her look appropriate for tonight’s ball. One of the first few of the summer in town. Abby was Penny’s chambermaid and friend. When others weren’t present, such as her mother, Penny allowed Abby to use her use her informal name rather that her proper title of Lady Penelope or ‘My Lady’. They were good friends, making efforts to assist each other in their respective quests for happiness. For both understood that without each other life would be just that little bit harder. And in these times a little bit went a long way.
For tonight, Abby had kindly used less pins than usual to fix Penny’s hair in place so as to avoid the headache she suffered after a long, dreary night at a ball. She had also allowed Penny was wait until the last minute to dress, making excuses and telling Penny’s mother, Lady Charlotte Holland, The Duchess of Quinnbury, that Penny was dressed and ready but wanted a few more moments to apply the new rouge that Lady Charlotte had purchased for her.
When the Duchess smiled to herself, thinking that her daughter may finally going to actively assume her place in the waiting throng of potential brides, she moved on the make further arrangements of her own, leaving Penny a few more precious minutes.
Penny caught the gaze of the mother looking at her from the bottom of the steps. Her gaze was happy and expectant and inquisitive. Whether it was due to Penny’s attendance and appliance to the task of gracefully descending the stairs or due to the lack of rouge that was absent from her cheeks. When Penny did reach the floor with both feet she let out a small breath of relief and triumph. Then promptly remembered that there was the rest of the ball to come and her decorum and manner would still be under scrutiny. Oh the trappings of society in what the newspapers were calling ‘The golden age’. With Queen Victoria on the thrown and Albert at her side, life in England was one to be treasured…apparently. She raised her head and steeled herself. Lord Popler approached her offering her his arm as theY proceeded to walk toward the refreshment table. “Penny you did a fine job presenting yourself.” He whispered in her ear. Lord Thomas Popler was an old friend and had known Penny since they were both small children. They had raced together in the wood by Brandon Manor, the Popler family home and Tom was glad to have a playmate that could keep up with him. As the only son in his family among three daughters who did not find pleasure in climbing trees and racing model boats in the lake, he was glad of Penny’s company. They had remained close friends ever since. “Thank you, Tom, I mean My Lord.” She corrected. Thomas’s father had unfortunately passed away 6 months earlier, leaving his estate, business affairs and the care of his family to his only son, Thomas. Penny was still adjusting to having to call him by his formal title. She was glad she had corrected herself as they passed a group of ladies of to the side of the dance floor that were staring in their direction and whispering with their heads close together. Penny cared not for what they had to say but politely faced them with a gentle smile on her face.
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