Esther, Saturday 4th January 1851

 Saturday 4th January 1851

Lambert Place

Morning room


Herr Blumenthal is here today to give my sisters their piano lessons, so I have a little time alone to indulge in my daydreams. I don’t play piano any more; the instrument didn’t suit me. But my mother ordained that I must have a musical ability—to attract a good husband, naturally—and so I have lessons for the harp. I’ve only been playing for three years, but someday I hope to play melodies of magic, that will entrance my audience and induce any young men present to fall frantically in love with me.

A young girl of marriageable age must be accomplished—I know that much, if I know my own name. Yet if I deign to speak the truth, I am not nearly so talented as I would wish to be. I sing tolerably well—but my voice flattens on the longer notes, and if the song is slow everything is sure to be wrong. I paint tolerably well, too—but my sunset skies are not sufficiently subtle for the aspirations of our drawing master. If only there were some other form of artwork that involved neither needles nor pencils. I have yet to discover my truest forte.

Abbie likes to tease me that I do not practice what I preach; yet Abbie is no more perfect than I. Even as I write I can hear her giggling in the next room. Herr Blumenthal likes her to sit and watch Elizabeth before she plays herself; he thinks it will be beneficial to her.

But poor Elizabeth, with Abbie observing her every move! She notes every mistake, no matter how infinitesimal it may appear, does Abbie, and stores them up for later reference when there is a dispute to be won. Oh, the little one can indeed be smart when she chooses!

I think Elizabeth used to be sweet on Herr Blumenthal. He’s not very old at all, despite the greyish colour of his hair, and he has the dearest accent. He’s Austrian, of course—as the greatest masters of music often are—and has the quaintest turn of phrase.

Elizabeth has always denied it when we teased her, but she seems to have hardened up of late, and does not blush so easily. Me, I do not deem that an attachment is so dreadful a crime. We are due to come out next season, after all; and though I would never describe myself as ‘frivolous’, is it not the role of a young lady to flirt with whatever bachelor may cross her path? And if it is improper to flirt with her music master, because her parents would not permit her to wed him, then he presents himself as a useful item on which to practice the art of coquetry. Romance is but a game; there is no harm in it.

Wish I, myself, to marry one man? Perchance I do; but the matter is not of my own part to decide. So I flirt with one to hurry his mind, and with others to goad his jealousy, and pray to God that my father has wisdom…and soon I shall be betrothed.

The sooner the better, to my mind. As the eldest of the three, it is right that my future is settled first; besides, if I end up tarrying too long, I may become a maid, and grow ugly, and my lack of supreme talent in the pastimes of a good lady will be noticed. And then not one of us will be married before we turn to the grave!

The End

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