‘I’m ever so sorry if you feel that way Gisele?’
‘I fear the loss of my son has had a contribution to my drastic change in character Sophia.’
‘You are lost and wandering Gisele,you will find a way back?’
‘It’s hardened my heart once and for all.’
‘Sophia I refuse to any more of this?’
Sophia stood up.
‘Is there something wrong Sophia?’
‘If you excuse me Lady Antoinette,I should like to retire to my room.’
‘I’m feeling slightly fraught Lady Antoinette.Perhaps some time alone,time to reflect and gather my thoughts for this special occasion…is just the medicine I need.’
With that she left the dining room.
Lord Henry gave me the knowing look,his eyes as they gaze upon me normally send shivers down my spine. ‘Now by reputation isn’t it normally you that does all of the running?’ whispers Lord Henry.
‘Speak up Lord Henry,for it’s rather rude to whisper.’ piped up Lady Antoinette.
‘Forgive my husband,I didn’t think he learnt the correct etiquette for conversations?’
‘If I were you Lord Henry and you would like everything to remain intact.I’d keep your opinions to yourself,and that heel of mine shall remain firmly upon the floor.’
‘Fighting talk at the breakfast table Lady Gisele.You know I like that?’
‘For your information Benjamin,I divulged in Sophia allowed her to know a few home truths about your little wifey.Advising her that her tears of sadness are certainly not genuine.They are only crocodile tears.Sophia she accused of hardening my heart.Answer me truthfully Benjamin,is my heart made from stone?’
‘Choose your words wisely Lord Henry.’
‘Sophia isn’t entirely in the wrong Gisele.You have certainly transformed before my eyes.You don’t have to grieve in silence?’
‘I have no time for bitter sweet tears,for I’ve played the part…if I grieve anymore I fear I shall be taken away.’
‘Sometimes you can act so shut down? If I am going to make an honest woman out of you my Lady.Then aren’t I entitled to know all of you’re inner most secrets you’re hopes and fears?’
‘I don’t need any more emotional hassle…’
Before Lord Henry was allowed to speak,I hushed him for Mama was in fine form,full flow conversation heavily discussing my upcoming nuptials.I do wish she’d leave me be.Barely back in London five minutes and already she’s trying to map out every single movement of my wedding day.’
‘I’m quite confident Gisele’s to Lord Henry is going to be such a lavish event.Oh so romantic.’gushed Holly/
‘And quite right too Holly,only the best for my petit Gisele.’
‘Talk about rubbing salt into the wound?’ replied Letitia.
I detect that Letitia is trying to spare Louisa of pride.
‘Hasn’t she suffered enough,her heart is battered and broken?’
‘I’m perfectly fine Letitia.’ exclaimed Louisa under her breathe.
‘Somehow I doubt that very much?’ giggled Holly.
‘The reception shall take place here of course.’
‘That’s a wonderful idea Mama,I always feel close to Lucille and Papa here.’
‘It’s true,whenever I step into the ball room I can almost picture inside my head if only just for a brief second.Giggling and dancing with the officers,beaming with pure delight my little sunshine girl.Only I could grasp one last moment with her I would tell her how much I love and miss her.That despite Mama’s disapproval of her poker games,was ever so proud to call her my baby sister.
‘I am glad you approve,we shall toast with crystal flutes,champagne over flowing under the waterfall that’s located nearby.’
‘Waterfall?’ I mouthed quietly in Marianna’s direction.
‘By waterfall she means the lakeside nearby.’
‘Sounds oh so wonderful.’ I sighed to myself.’
‘Oooh I can not wait to see our choice of bridesmaids dresses!’ squealed Holly. ‘I can only imagine golden gowns like royalty.’
‘Gisele will opt for a safe colour more demure look I should imagine?’ said Evangaline.
‘Boring.’ sighed Holly.
‘Wonder if Lord Arthur will be present?’
‘You’re too sweet for your own good,fawning over Arthur you’re heads always in the clouds Evan.’
‘The wedding invitations will look second to none.The designs I have my eyes on Gisele.’
‘Mama that really isn’t necessary,Benjamin and I have found some beautiful templates in Italy.’
‘Nonsense,they won’t have a patch on these my child.Mama knows best,I presume you have chosen a suitable wedding gown to wear for the occasion?’
‘Of course Mama I’m not five.’
‘Since this is to be your second wedding,heaven forbid! My nerves are shot because of this.I suggest it to be tasteful and yes dignified also.Not a hint of scandal this time around young lady.’
‘I personally selected it in one of my magazines in Italy.Oh Mama it’s beautiful,it’s as though it’s been designed for an Italian princess.No ruffles or what not,I forbid to look like a swan.The embroidery and craftsmenship is absolutely breathtaking.’
‘I hope it’s not white,of the virginal kind.’ mocked Louisa.
‘I shall ignore that snide remark Lady Rickman,jealously gets you absolutely no were in life.The difference between your definition of exquisite taste and mine is the gown shall be full of elegance,beauty vigour and class.A cream choice of colour is after all you are no longer a shy and retiring blushing bride.’
‘Thanks for that Mama.’
‘It shall be complimented with a beautiful pearl necklace.A precious heirloom.’
‘That’s if you’re to be trusted with you’re Gran’Mama the late Lady Reinette Delessop’s pearl necklace.’
‘It’s overwhelming,that’s such a touching gesture Mama.’
‘Lady Gisele,will glide towards Lord Henry,as the gown flows freely.Complimenting her figure with dignity.I mean have you put on a few pounds Gisele? Italy hasn’t been kind to your body?’
‘Standing before you will be your misunderstood angel Lord Henry.The virgin Mary herself will smile upon you fondly.As for Gisele adorable sweet soul,embraces modern fashion.I have visions Benjamin of my daughter,meeting you down the aisle on the happiest days of your life with a cheeky glint in her eye,and an impish smile painted upon her face.Accompanied with a knee length gown ensemble with a nymph slit to the side.All on display,nothing left to the imagination.
‘Lady Antoinette,I can safely say you’re Gisele’s taste is nothing to fear.I mean she would look breath taking in a brown paper bag.I wouldn’t take a blind bit of notice.For my eyes,would be drawn to my wife’s true beauty and good heart.’
‘Lord Henry,I am offended by your choice of words.As well as caring for Esme and Ava I have spent endless sleepless nights squinting my candle…dedicating my time scaling my special day down.So I will not be a mockery,I’m still trying to regain my position in society once more.Ensure that I will be a vision of beauty and perfection as a wife.Making sure I don’t have an accident with my brand new painted shoes.My choice of table decorations aught it compliment my gown or will it clash? Hair style,will be up in spirals,french plait,curled and simple.Or should I be dramatic and cut it all off into a bob!’
‘No daughter of mine is to have her hair cut you’ll be mistaken for a gentleman?’
‘It didn’t do Louisa any harm,it’s the height of sophistication.I have a fever thinking about it all.I mean gentlemen you have it so easy,all you do is turn up.You just sit there and have a nerve to say that you would look perfect in a bag? It’s an insult to feminine kind.Remind me why I’m even considering marrying you Lord Henry,you are starting to give me the impression that you’ll almost settle for second best?’
‘I know,I shall walk down in my own under garments? Grace you at the alter with merely my corset and stockings? I mean after all you wouldn’t take a blind bit of notice.How would that make you feel?’
‘I wouldn’t complain Gisele.’
‘My point exactly.’
‘Please do not portray me in a bad light Gisele.’
‘I think you’ve already did that yourself?’ said Holly.
‘Lady Delessop,I merely protect.I only said those words in order for you to feel better.I don’t want you to feel under pressure?’
‘Underpressure? My my,that’s an understatement?’
‘I was trying to…’
‘Lord Henry,I advice you to stop right there.Stop digging,there’s no reasoning with my sister.’ smiled Marianna.
‘Sorry child,but I shall be the judge of that? I shall arrange a meeting that is suitable for the both of us.To scrutinise every little detail and it’s not up to my satisfaction then it’s back to the planning board I’m afraid.’
I feel this small,so humiliated.Lord Rickman just sitting there like a pathetic little dormouse.I mean really what is he still doing here? I realise he is the father to my daughter’s,but he no longer has a connection to my Mama.Is Mama deliberately keeping him here to defy me.As for her meddling,this is my special day.It’s slowly slipping away from my grasp.Lady Antoinette,don’t you realise you’re stealing everything away from me.Undoing all of my hard work,dismissing my dreams,all a long it’s only been about your pride,rearranging my marriage.So you can come out smelling of roses? Why can’t you allow me to make my own decisions? You have no idea how much you are suffocating me.At times like this I miss my Carl’s cool and calming influence.
‘Sir Casey may have settled for second best…ever so sorry to shatter you’re illusions but he isn’t the man you’re about to marry.You had an escape from marrying him,it would have been a sorry affair.You’re marriage to Lord Henry,I picture the day a beautiful and serene scene.Not a single dove or swan in sight! I have visions of them escaping into the house and staff trying to pick up after them.Ghastly creatures! As for your daughter’s selection of gown.Darling,I respect your value of opinion on many things,this is a different matter.Lord Henry I admire your boldness to say so,but she is the object of my affection.It’s your duty as a husband to compliment your dear true.Gisele is my daughter,brave she may be but I shall not be humiliated.Dressed like one of those women of society secretly pity,but refuse to stop and give them the time of day.There merely whispers in corners,and dare I say gentlemen’s fifteen seconds of delight over a conversation of brandy and cloud of cigar smoke.’
‘I shall not speak of those fallen women.’
‘If you excuse me?’
The words echoed around my head like a constant throbbing pain. ‘Brave as she may be?’ and ‘I shall not speak on behalf of these fallen women.’ I was indeed once a woman my Mama so coldly made reference to.As for my darling Carl,how dare she speak so ill of him.Carl would have provided for me,protected me,over all made me happy.He worshipped and idolised me,why he would walk over hot coals in order to be part of my life.Her kindness is beginning to suffocate and choke the essence of my very soul.I slowly turned my head towards the mirror.Even in the flicker of hope through the darkness,I no longer recognise the face staring right back at me or the woman I had become?
‘Who is this vision of sublime beauty?’
‘Flattery will get you no were?’
I slowly turned,I was angry but quietly relieved to see Lord Henry.
‘Why did you run?’
‘I don’t have to justify myself to you Lord Henry?’
‘Gis nothing,how could she just sit there and say those vile things.Dismissing Carl as though he were a joke? Speaking ill of a dead person.He can not stand up to her,Carl he may have appeared shy and retiring to outsiders.But not to me,he allowed me in.I was his Gisele,he told me of his hopes and fears.Carl had his dreams…’
‘I know that Sir Carl meant a grave deal to you? Making a mockery of your romance is low even for your Mama?’
‘It’s as though they treated him with no respect,that he appeared to be inferior to me.There were times I may have taken his feelings for granted.Dragged his heart and emotions through the dirt.’
‘I humiliated him,I saw Carl as a brother despite our history.I took advantage of his sweet nature and genorisity towards me.Leading him into temptation,allow him to believe that I would become his wife.I’m such an awful person,I realise that I still loved him and contemplating a future when he was engaged to Lady Rose Keating.I left it too late.’
‘No,do not fret or beat yourself up over it Gisele.You promised him tomorrow and not to give up hope.Held onto him till life drained out of him,you were his guardian angel.Showed grace and love.Lady Delessop you’re love for him was sweet and pure.’
‘Our wedding,it would have been such a simple affair.My hair down free flowing in the wind.A garland of daisies or red ribbons,depending upon my mood symbolising innocence and purity.The sun would always be shining,I had a perfect dress in mind simple in every detail.Beautiful all the same.’
‘The birds would be singing their heavenly song.We would be close to tears,as though we had only just met.Just like Romeo and Juliet,a butterfly would fly upon the end of my nose.All of it’s beauty upon display.We wouldn’t have been able to afford all of the trimmings like my wedding day to his brother.A meadow wouldn’t have mattered,I loved him.’ I took a deep breath. ‘And the way she spoke of those women? As though they were dirt she had just trampled on a poor defenceless butterfly.I didn’t chose that lifestyle,circumstances led them to chose the darkest path.In fact…’
I took hold of Lord Henry’s hand. ‘Darling,I need to be completely honest with you.Even my former husband isn’t aware of this lie.Whilst Lord Rickman and I were in Versailles,I befriended a ‘Lady of the night.’ The French has their choice of words,labelling these poor women as whores,courtesans.Christine-Mia,beautiful red hair,crimson lips.Skin paler than mine.So sweet natured,eighteen years of age.Such a tragic past,sent to work in the work house at a tender age,then both of her parents Phillipe and Amelie had died.Lost her job,so she was left with nothing but the clothes she wore this led her to selling her body.One day,I caught her begging in the Parisian streets,I placed a coin into her tatty old hat.I looked up and there Christine stood,she was all skin and bone hands and finger nails looked so grubby.Hair all tangled,body odour would put any passer by off.I couldn’t abandon this girl,how would I feel if Ava and Esme had fallen upon hard times.The prospect of this tore me apart,all this girl needs is love and I aught to give her this.My penance,to undo all of my wrong things in my life.I picked the fragile girl off guard,slowly took her by the hand.Back in the chateu,I led her through the servants quarters whilst I relieved the girls nanny of her duties.I lay my girls down to bed,giving Christine the opportunity to get back to normality.Being in a house must have been such a culture shock to her.Allowing her to bathe in luxury,offered her a change of dress.A while later,when she felt brave enough to face we sat by candle light.Poor girl opened up to me,exchanged her life story.How offering her body to willing rich gentlemen was her only way of true survival.Her empty dreams touched my heart.Imagining a man of a good heart would take her away from this torrid life.I took her under my wing,called her my ward in my care.I tried to make her feel worthy again.Providing warmth,shelter.A place to rest her head and a friendly ear.
The night was ever so gloomy,I led Christine to her chamber.
‘Won’t Lord Rickman mind?’
‘Whay my husband won’t know won’t hurt him? This is were you shall stay.’
‘No Lady Rickman,you are far too kind.I truly do not deserve this.’
‘I have no desire to throw you out into the cold Christine.’
‘It would be a relief not to be afraid of the shadows.A place to call your own.’
‘I hope you don’t mind Christine,forgive me but you remind me of my sister Lucille.’
‘What happened to her?’
‘She tragically died in a riding accident.’
‘Oh I’m ever so sorry my lady.’
‘She was full of ideas,a lively spirit and I abandoned her.I am not prepared to make that mistake again Christine.You’re welcome to stay for as long as you need me.’
‘Unbeknown to my husband,I had deceived him once more.Christine’s sparkle and hunger and life was restored.She was ever so grateful for my kindness.I took her to dinners and dances in order for her to raise her self-esteem.Christine was broken the poor child and for a time in Louisa’s absence sh was my only true close companion.Sadly I couldn’t save her for a few months later,the date of her nineteenth birthday she lost her fight in life.Cholera stole her precious life away.’
‘I barely knew her?’
‘You provided love and support till her end of days.’
‘Mama has no right,to judge something she knows nothing of.The life they lead,Chearine taught me that valuable life lesson.She was a beautiful person,crying for help…reaching out but no one could hear her voice.She longed to be a dancer,so unafraid to chase it.’
‘You have such a beautiful soul Gisele.’
‘No one would catch her,I had to reach out to her Benjamin.A part of me felt connected to her,I’ve been there desperate,scrabbling around in the dirt.Not a single penny to my name.Fighting for what little respect I could grasp onto Lord Henry.I had to teach her that she was worth more,her taste was not just a forbidden object.Only for gentlemen to have their grubby palms all over her body.That she is beautiful and worthy of being called a lady.No longer hiding in the fringes of society.Lord Henry,I think I owe you an apology.I was ever so beastly to you.I know how you felt when Louisa became over zealous when you were getting married,how trapped you feel.Promise me that you find comfort in the arms of a younger and far more beautiful woman?’
‘You have my word Lady Delessop.’
‘I had no right to take my frustration with Sophia and Mama out on you.It was unforgivable of me.’
‘You have no reason to apologise my Lady.’
A little while later,it was raining,I ventured out.For I needed time away from my girls,I love them with my whole heart but a piece of me yearns for a healthy reminder of merely reminiscing to behave like a child,young at heart.Forget about all of my troubles and dance around in the rain.Splash around,I didn’t care if my hair was all over the place and my daydress was soaking through.I looked up at the sky and sensed that it was Carl,just knew that he wasn’t best pleased of my engagement to Benjamin.Looking skywards I sensed that it was Carl,my sweet love.Oh I owe it all to him to open up to my former lover after all I knew his deepest darkest secret.
‘Oh Carl,I know you haven’t forgiven me for disclosing my deepest darkest secret of you killing your brother in cold blood.Do not be disappointed in me Carl,he had to know the truth I am about to become his wife.Husband’s and Wive’s do not and can not afford to conceal secret’s from one another.I lay in his arms night after night,the guilt just ate away at me.Making me ill! You have no idea the power struggle I endured torn between betraying my childhood sweetheart and my fiance’.I know you do not approve of him! I should be preparing for my engagement ball,not stood here trying to justify myself to you.Oh Carl,please leave me be! I know you loved me,I’m no longer that fifteen year old girl.Sir Casey never came across as the jealous and possessive type.I’m sorry if this is going to be personal,my heart will forever be bound to you…oh do not give me that look? I know what you must be thinking,when? Soon,you and I will be lovers once more.When we are reunited in heaven,it’s time to be a big girl now and forget about you.Forgive me if I’m about to embarrass you,I have no intention to bite my tongue.Why do I always act like this? Even when you’re six feet under? I merely refuse to lower the tone but I can’t help feeling this way even for you know.I know we never consummated our love for one another.Oh how I blush,those piercing blue eyes making my heart go all of a quiver.If you were standing here how you’d mock me? And I’d playfully twist my hair in order to gain your attention.But my feelings for you still remains the same,the biggest regret of all isn’t laying down beside you.Gazing into one another’s eyes.Or watching the dawn I never thought you and I would end this way? You took a bullet for me,and I would do the same for you.But answer me truthfully Carl,if you where in my shoes and I had tragically died in your arms….the power of my precious life draining away from my body,every second counted.My heart slowly beating it’s last drum as though I’m a butterfly spanning it’s wings out for the last time.Blood upon your hands,you cradling my head,sweat dripping from my brow.You’re sweet essence willing me to continue to wake from my deepened sleep.You kiss my lips as my porcelain skin turns ashen grey lips slowly transforming to blue.My pulse weakening,tell me Sir Casey am I painting an accurate enough picture for you? Would I ask for you to fall upon my grave,grief stricken clutching to my coffin you throw a single red rose to state such love.A declaration,Howl in such pain,my poor wounded Romeo Montague.Grief will become the end of my days? No I’d say Carl,have courage remain ever so strong and steadfast.Love again,marry bare beautiful children.I’d remain in here deep down in your heart,God knows I’m trying,I can not sleep in a dark cold and empty bed.When the wind is ever so cold,howling through the window pane.I need to be held by someone to keep me safe and calm.A father to my children,Benjamin can do that,he’s a good person Carl.You know me,I can never say goodbye.Remember the time I thought you were running out on me,leaving as I had just got engaged to Lord Rickman well I never confessed to say that I’m exactly the same running away from my true emotions because I am scared of the consequences I must go,for I’m dripping wet and I need to prepare myself mentally and emotionally for the engagement gala of a life time.Good bye.’
I was ready to face society,I stood before the mirror in my childhood room once more.Wearing a beautiful and yet so bold looking red gown.I couldn’t help feeling anxious the prospect of what I was about to face.Marianna kindly fastened my corset,every ribbon she pulled I felt a tiny bit more suffocated.I know I mentioned previously of the newly founded corsets being designed for sophistication and comfort.I beg to differ,I breathed in deeper as it got tighter and tighter.Letitia boldly brushed my hair.
‘Ow! That hurt!’
‘That’ll teach you to venture out into the rain!’ hissed Letitia.
‘I wish you’d stop with the tedious talking!’
‘Stop behaving as though you’re a child and I shall.Gisele Tara Anastacia whatever possessed you?’
‘I wanted to be one with nature.’ I sighed.
‘You miss Quinn I realise that?’
‘Letty,I feel as though Carl is pulling me in.’
‘Keep still your hair is tangled!’
‘I’m ever so sorry,but did I ask you? I’m perfectly capable of brushing my hair.’
‘I thought that I was doing you a favour? Obviously not?’
‘Sorry Letitia,my nerves are all over the place.Carl casts a shadow over this engagement.He disapproves of my relationship to Lord Henry? I hear whispers inside of my mind?’
‘For heaven’s sake girl,if you say that out louad,you will be sent to the asylum.Being confined in to a small space,your past dredged up and analysed.And as for Mama you’re state of mind will end her life for sure.Have you considered your daughters?’
‘Maybe I haven’t been of sound mind since William died?’
‘Leave me be!’
‘Do you wish for Esme and Ava’s reputation to be tainted.To be known as the daughter’s of the lunatic?’
‘Did Carl ever approve of any of your relationships Lord Rickman? Sir Holmes? Earl Merrells? Need I continue,pardon me if I may speak out of turn but the amount of times we’ve been here?’
‘I’m only speaking of what other’s are speaking of?’
‘I’ve replayed this moment in my head,as though it’s my own personal tragedy.Entering the ball room,head poised.The masked swan,once so serene and white as the driven snow.Hiding any emotion,will I receive the standing ovation as I take the long walk to the high table.Having visions of hallucinations seeing Carl at the table.’
‘Oh please this isn’t Macbeth!’ squealed Holly. ‘You shall not be harmed by Carl’s ghost haunting you?’
‘Wash your mouth out Holly Delessop,you shall be cursed till the end of days.You do not address the cursed play in that kind of fashion! It’s only to be referred to as the Scottish play.’
‘Oh please,the only witch paying you a visit from the blasted heath.Is Mother dear true? And you are not a lady of the stage?’
‘I have no intention too…The small talk with the ugly gentleman folk that I don’t know from Adam? Acting all sickly sweet,eating out of the palm of their hands.Doting on their every word,taking a glass of wine into my hand.Holding it ever so gently using the correct wine drinking etiquette to act merely polite.I mean how do I know that they have laced it with deadly poison? Word is Jack has gentleman friends in the darkest places.Not even Mama is aware of them.I collapse on to the floor,Benjamin ripping my dress,the corset that I’m imprisoned in crushing my ribs.Constantly digging into my breast.He manages to open my corset with a steak knife my corpse is free.I can not wait until I have danced my last dance.Take my last bow and retire to my quarters,my sanctuary.I wish I never returned to London,it still gives me the chills.
I walked through the corridors,history filled the walls.The Delessop dynasty hung in it’s pride of place just gathering dust.Gran Mama Reinette and Gran Papa Phillipe.Oh I wish I had the chance to meet Gran Mama.
‘Gisele,your Gran’Mama was just like you so beautiful at an impressionable age.A free spirit,heart bursting full of fire and passion.She had a few dalliances in the past before she wed Lord Phillipe,my dear Papa.’
I walked across and there stood a beautiful picture of Mama and Papa taken on their wedding day.Mama looked ever so beautiful,such a lovely and simple dress,no lace or sequins.Papa smiling ever so proud,he looked so handsome in his wedding suit.In his prime so gallant and handsome.Raven black hair,I’m paralysed with fear over the prospect of tonight.After all I’ve been in this position before,previously visiting my so called happiness with Lord Rickman when all of the while I was playing a dangerous game.There was a picture of all five of us Delessop girls,dressed in beautiful bonnets and matching lemon summer dresses.Lucille how she detested looking the same,she craved for individuality even at a young age.Such beautiful piercing blue eyes and brunette hair.She had such an angelic smile.The final picture was a portrait of Lord Rickman and I on our wedding day.I was transported back to the day,the familiar smells of the flowers.The fake smiles pretending that my whole undivided love and attention was for my new husband.The look of betrayal whenever I saw Sir Declan after that day.I truly tried,I really did.I carefully studied the picture,looks can be deceptive.I may have looked beautiful and appeared to my wedding guests looking into my Oliver’s eyes acting as though I adored him.Deep down I held a dark secret,painful to think of it now.For my affair was truly the death of my dear Papa.I see that girl look into her piercing eyes and I look so lost,longing to be found.I never felt so alienated from my family.Maybe if I hadn’t shielded the pain then I could have prevented hurting Oliver.Despite it all Oliver has came out of barely scathed.He’s such a good man,ever so noble standing aside,allowing me to Lord Benjamin.Revisting the ghosts I craved for a time of reflection.I made my drawing room,walking into their once more transported me back to happy times.The room was once so full,full of laughter and cigar smoke piano playing and laughter.Now all remains now is silence,there stood in it’s pride of place willing for me to play it was my beautiful black grande piano.It looked truly neglected hasn’t been played since I was last here.I boldy sat down and started to play my favourite piece Fur Elise.I immersed myself in each individual notes.As my fingers nimbly ran across the keys.
I was seven years of age,my Mama was ever so strict in my piano tuition.Endless hours I spent practicing until my fingers bled.
‘That wasn’t good enough petit Gisele!’
‘Mama,my fingers hurt.’
‘You will not stop until we’ve reached full perfection child.’
‘I long to play out with Mari and Letty.’
‘Playing hide and seek will never get you anywhere in life.When you’re a young lady you will grow to learn in order to attract a gentleman to marry you will have to be able to play the piano.’
‘I don’t think I shall like boys that much,they are awful.’
‘That’s just Daniel he’s a mean little boy you aught to know better.Carl for instance he’s a lovely young boy.’
‘Carl he smells awfully funny he spends all of his time catching frogs and putting them in my petticoat.’
‘Less of this talk Gisele,now back to practicing.’
Smiling ever so fondly at the memory,oh how I was greatful for Mama being strict.Playing this now I was transported back to the beautiful Italy,how I miss it so.Maybe Lord Henry was perfectly right in saying we would never have returned to London.
I walked into the ballroom once more,hand in hand with my beloved Lord Henry.
‘Lady Delessop,you’re beauty takes my breathe away.’ says Lord Henry.
‘Speak low if you speak of love.’ I lowered my voice to a whisper.
‘Ah Anthony and Cleopatra my Lady?’
‘Well well well,you have been studying.I am silently impressed.’
‘Well then hear this Lady Delessop…for I am about to dazzle you?’
‘Indulge me with your spoken words.’
‘Forgive me if I may appear bold,but ever since our first encounter.I’ve had this back from you…For I am about to speak my chosen words from the dear bard himself.’
‘Did my heart love till now? For swear it sight!’
For I never saw true beauty till this night.’
‘Back then I was feeling ever so lost with no were to turn.I had lost my grip one what was right and wrong.You were indeed my enemy and deep down.I loved you,but scared to say the words out loud.’
‘My only love sprung from my only hate.’ ‘Like Juliet herself I was torn in trying to do what was right…For I was saving myself from you.In order to do right by my husband.But the closer you got to Louisa,devoting your time and affection the grande gestures.I felt pending jealously.I truly detested you forced myself to have a reguard for your feelings.My coldness forced you into an awkward marriage.Your mother and father should be here toasting your happiness.Not even a note from Ana,because of my love for you you’re whole family was ripped to the seams.’
Lord Henry reassuringly squeezed my hand.
‘Here come’s trouble.’
‘I thought that…’
Lady Ana came over and greeted us in an ever so soul-warmingly way.’
‘Gisele darling?’ She gently kissed my cheek.
‘Yes,that’s my name don’t wear it out.’
‘Sorry,what a pleasant surprise! I’m kind of overwhelmed.’
‘Please do not weep over me.I wouldn’t miss this for the world.Arthur,he couldn’t make the engagement gala sadly.He had a prior engagement,sends his best wishes…Truth be told,I detect that he’s trying to avoid meek and mild Evangaline.’
‘I don’t think Evan has completely got over the way it ended between them.She’s fragile soul,desperately clinging to Louisa as though her life depended upon it.I think it’s best Ana,if you’re dear brother kept his distance.’
‘What of Mama and Papa?’
‘Still not budging I’m afraid?’
‘They can take it out on me Ana,but surely they could have swallowed their pride.Showed their loved and support towards their son.I always thought your mother and father were strong and steadfast.Stand by Benjamin despite us falling in love? How wrong was I?’
‘It came as a shock to us all.Word in Versailles is the constant talk of who this girl that’s bewitched my dear brother? I mean you took your devoted sister-in-law under her wing.Vowing to protect her from the world,then some how you end up betraying her.It’s an awful lot for my Mama to take in.Forgive me,but you have always found you ever so mysterious as though you’re not real?’
‘Antoinette,may I say what a beautiful fine woman you’re Gisele has blossomed into?’
‘Thank you sister Grace.’
‘Dare I say that she has her Papa’s eyes?’
‘Behind the smiles,I detect Gisele is struggling today without her Papa.Truth is she still blames herself for William’s death.’
‘A horrific thing to witness.’ sighed Grace. ‘And for it to happen to poor Carl too.I was awfully fond of him.’
I thought I aught to go and circulate I gave Lord Henry a kiss.
‘…And for it to happen to poor Carl too? I was awfully fond of him.’
‘Sir Casey,Grace is what I call a coward never staying true to his word.If he had boldly spoke of his intentions towards my daughter.Then she wouldn’t be constantly looking over her shoulder.Why she’s scared of her own shadow,since her involvement with that frightful Sir Holmes.’
Completely oblivious of my whereabouts,I caught Mama completely off guard.
‘You always go out of your way to humiliate me in front of society?’
‘Gisele,I barely call this a public flogging.I was merely passing comment with your dear Aunt.’
‘It’s true Gisele.’
‘For your information Mama,you are fully aware of my proposal from Sir Casey on the eve of my twenty first birthday.I thought it would be improper to accept it.You spoke of your ill feelings for him of the past?’
‘You were just a child.’
‘That I was,out of duty I pushed my feelings aside.For I didn’t want to abuse my position,how dare you stand there and speak of Sir Casey in that fashion? A coward was he not? Carl,he loved me a great deal and I admit I was merely flattered.He proved that the very night he died.I deeply regret,I acknowledged my inner most feelings for him.When it was too late,forgive me.’ I curtsied out of politeness. ‘I must circulate,before I say something I frightfully regret.Lady Grace.’ I curtsied out of politeness. ‘It’s been a pleasure as always.’
Shame I can’t say the same of my Mama,Esme and Ava where with Marianna.It must be so tough to be with them especially knowing that shes unable to bare children.I felt some cold hands touch my face,playfully abstructing my view.
I turned around. ‘Tom?’
‘I believe congratulations is in order Lady Delessop?’
‘It’s ever so good to see you.’
‘Gisele,you look positively glowing.You look ever so well?’
‘That’s because I feel it,inside my heart Tom.’
Tom kissed my hand. ‘My lady,Reinette and I beseech you most humbly with a gift?’
‘Oh really you shouldn’t have?’ I blushed.
‘It’s nothing exciting,merely decor for your new home in Italy?’ smiled Reinette.
‘Cushions? You have quite the feminine touch Tom?’ I teased.
‘It was merely an idea of Reinette’s.’
‘Oh don’t be so bashful Tom.It’s ever so thoughtful of you.Thank you.’
‘Well well well,this is quite a turn out?’
‘All thanks to Mama.’
‘Where are your delightful children?’
‘Mari,has been an angel and taken charge of them for the evening.Ever so sweet of her,she’s such a darling to them both.’
‘And what of the high and mighty Lady Antoinette a la the devoting Gran’Mama?’
‘Do not speak a word of her.’
‘I do not understand,and I thought you and your Mama that had forgiven one another?’
‘She called Carl a coward,for not acting like a gentleman and acknowledging his feelings for me.Therefore blaming her own daughter’s downfall,because he wasn’t manly enough to save me! That he hadn’t enough backbone-‘
‘He sacrificed his love and future happiness with Lady Rose Keating to save you.Surely that mean something to Lady Antoinette?’
‘Laying down one’s life isn’t enough for my precious little Mama.Her saying those words has truly hurt me so.Knowing she was the one who jeopardised our happiness by arranging an unwanted marriage to her vile and disrespectful brother.’
If only she was aware of the full extent of Carl murdering her brother in cold blood.Would she still call him a coward? No she would confess all in order to keep Carl and I apart.’
‘I shall act the dutiful daughter for the sake of my children.Smiling in the correct places,give her the perfect and yet so false impression that I am trying in order to please her.But as soon as the wedding is over and my gown is removed.I shall return to Italy….Lady Antoinette is dead to me.’