Her handmaids played with her curls, garnishing them with ribbons and arranging them in various positions. Her best gowns were sprawled across her mattress, as they placed different pieces of delicate jewelry on her slender, creamy neck. Elizabeth was used to such priming and fussing, though never had they done it with such fervor and taken out her most beautiful possessions for wearing. Her dark eyes drifted absent-mindedly from the mirror to the window, not hearing as Lucinda inquired which dress she preferred.
Her father had simply told her that 'a visitor' was coming. Mr. Steele, another friend of Lord Knosley's, was scheduled to come within a fortnight, yet he came often and never had they prepared anything spectuacular for him. The kitchen was in a great mess, preparing something of a feast. Gardeners were bustling outdoors, putting the most beautiful flowers in place and trimming every blade of grass. Through her intense series of questions, Elizabeth had gotten no answers and had given up, quietly taking to their torturous fussings. She would rather be outdoors, walking the gardens or riding through the fields...
Though the question of her mysterious visitor pestered her. It was as if the King himself was to visit their grand estate. Yet such a thing would be very improbable. And why did not her father tell her? What was that playful glint in his eye when he had summoned her into his library earlier that day?
"There!" declared Amelie, clasping her hands together as she looked over Elizabeth's hair, set perfectly in place. The high arragement of hair accented her delicate bone structure, arched eyebrows, and high cheekbones. The servants smiled and giggled merrily, complimenting her extraordinary beauty. Eagerly, Lucinda took her hands, pulling her mistress from her stool and over to the bed where the elegant dresses lay. Elizabeth realized many of them were new, as if done up by her seamstress that morning. They were made of the most luxurious silks, beautiful velvets, and finest laces. She could not help admire their prettiness.
"Today you shall wear this one, will you not? What an impression it would give, my Lady!" Lucinda drew a crimson red evening gown from it's place. Its top was open so to leave her pale shoulders bare, the skirts shimmering in the afternoon light, almost like blood. The servants nodded, urging Elizabeth that such a gown would be darling upon her. It appeared her only option was to choose the gown as the merry servant wished, and as she nodded in approval, they hustled to their work, changing her from her simple day gown to the new dress.
Elizabeth sat silently in the darkening parlor, the fire snapping and popping in the fireplace. Like an unmoving china doll, she waited, her father seated in a nearby chair in his best dress as well, gazing over her with pride in his heart. He could not help but see every bit of his wife in her, a great spectacle of beauty.
Footsteps were heard in the hall, and both hosts stiffened, Elizabeth anxiously looking toward the door. The mystery of the visitor was soon to be revealed.
A maidservant stepped through the door, curstying, "A Mr. Henry Otis for you."
"Allow him in," Lord Knosley hurried to stand, Elizabeth following him.
The young girl nodded, smoothly leaving the room. Within moments, a finely dressed young man entered, only a few years older than Elizabeth. He was agreeably handsome, Elizabeth observing him through her thick lashes as she curstied and both he and her father bowed. Quietly, they returned to their seats, and the Mr. Otis was offered his own.
Elizabeth blushed red, averting her eyes from him as he stared at her with wondering, awestruck eyes. As her and her father began to speak amongst themselves, she started to wish she was not wearing such a revealing gown.