Adrianna felt she could breathe a sigh of relief once the last of the guests had left and she could finally get ready for bed. The evening had gone on far longer than she had expected and exhaustion was beginning to take it’s toll.
“You looked beautiful tonight,” Adrianna’s maid said as she unlaced the back of her mistress’s silk dress.. “I’m sure your father was very proud of you. Everyone seemed to really like you.”
“It’s their duty to approve of me,” Adrianna complained. “If they didn’t then my father would have made sure they never worked in politics again.”
“That’s not true. Your father only does that because he cares about you.”
“If only he cared about me enough to let them see the real me,” Adrianna murmured to herself.
“What was that, my lady?”
“Nothing,” Adrianna said hurriedly. “Just talking to myself.” She remained silent as her maid chattered away, commenting on how fine the ladies were dressed and how handsome the gentlemen were.
“It must be so wonderful to be able to wear beautiful gowns and talk to exciting and interesting people,” she said, not noticing that Adrianna wasn’t really listening. “I saw Count Alberto dancing with you.”
“His Royal Highness, Count Alberto. What’s he like?”
“Umm…I’m not sure, I didn’t spend a lot of time with him. He didn’t seem to be anything special.”
“Your father appeared very pleased that the Count came. It must be such an honour to have a member of the royal family in his home. I wonder why he came.”
“My father is on important politician, it doesn’t surprise me that he has friends in the royal family. He wouldn’t have been able to get where he is without them.”
“Then he’s a very lucky man to have such friends and allies,” the maid said, making Adrianna put her arms up so she could slip her nightgown over her head. “He’ll probably be able to find you a rich and powerful man to marry if he has connections with the royal family.”
“But he hasn’t asked me if that’s what I want.”
“I’m sure he’ll make the right decision.”
“It’s not up to you to decide whether or not my father is making the right decision,” Adrianna snapped. “That will be all tonight thank you.”
The maid mumbled an apology before leaving the room. Adrianna watched her go before sitting at her guilt dressing table and staring into the mirror, examining the way the red mask hid her face. The mask was beautiful, she couldn’t deny that, but she didn’t understand why she had to wear it.
She reached around the back of her head and untied the ribbon holding the silk mask in place and put it down on the table before looking back in the mirror. Surely she wasn’t so ugly that she had to wear a mask to hide her face. True her skin was darker than many of the other women in society but that never seemed to be a problem for her olive skinned father. She wouldn’t have called herself beautiful, even though others thought she was, but she didn’t think she was unattractive.
And it wasn’t just Adrianna who had to wear the compulsory mask. Every woman with a male relative had to wear a mask and the rest of society shunned those who didn’t. Adrianna couldn’t stand these unwritten rules she had to follow, along with the way she had to behave in order to find a husband.
“Stop it,” Adrianna muttered to herself, standing up violently from the chair, blowing out the candle on the dressing table and walking across the room to her bed. “Stop thinking like that. You’re much better off than most. Be grateful.”
Trying to put thoughts of discontent out of her head, Adrianna threw back the covers on her bed and climbed in, blowing the candle next to her out and pulled the covers over her head, burying herself in the darkness.