This is about a young girl in Victorian England and her happily ever after. I mean how often do you actually hear the story of a happily ever after? This is only the begnning, there is still another short story that comes after this one.......
He sits across from me as if he is the King, his chin held high. I want to run from here, hide. I know what is in the purple-velvet box across from me. I do not want it; he thinks that I am in love with him, which I am certainly not. He begins to open his mouth tracing the box with his fingers, ready to open it, when to my relief a waiter comes by our table.
“Is this all?” He asks folding his hands behind his back.
“Well-” Walter begins to say, but I cut him off.
“No, thank you.” The waiter leaves, Walter is quiet. Soon enough I regret it. Bakied lemon cakes start to sneak into the tea room. The scent is enough to make a person hallucinate. The tea room is very quiet. The music of a harp softly echoes through the white marble room.
“June... June.” Walter looks at me as if I am ill. “Are you all right?”
“Yes,” wait, I needed to say no so I could get out of this place, “no, no I feel very terribly actually. I don’t mean to be rude, but I need to go. Thank you for everything.” I get up, grabbing my hand bag and coat.
“Wait! Shouldn’t I escort you? Can you please stay for another minute; I have something rather important to speak to you about!” I try to ignore him, until he starts to whine. Swiftly I turn around to see him running after me. The other tea room guests stare at us.
“Stop it, you are making a scene. I already know what your question is and I have no urge to answer it. Please leave me, I am feeling unwell.” Walter quickly grabs my elbow and leads me into the foyer, a circular room, with gray marble pillars and a large window looking out onto a garden. Winter winds throw themselves violently at the window.
“Please, I need you June. You must look past your nose June. I love and deserve you more than anyone else. Please take my hand.” No, I couldn’t, I didn’t love him. He was a hypocrite, a snob, and oblivious to the true meaning of love. I couldn’t tell him that I really loved another man, he would tell my parents. If he told my parents who I really loved, I would most likely be disowned.
“No.” I tried to make him let go of me, but he only gripped harder.
“Please!” He wailed as I tried to get away.
“You are the most, hypocritical, selfish, arrogant man I have ever met. You can say, and give me whatever you want, but I will simply not take your hand! Now let go of me or I will call the constable.” His face start turned red with anger. I looked him in the eye.
“We will see what you parents have to say about this!” With that he stomped away, angrily pulling his top hat on. I took a deep breath and straightened my skirts. They wouldn’t be able to say much, for after this evening they would never see me again.
“June, I cannot let you go out without a chaperone. Ever since you tried to run off with that half Indian man Albert Julian you simply can’t be trusted being by yourself. Now my darling will you play me that piece you have mastered on the piano?” That was a demand. I hated my father more than my fiancé, Walter. I had tried to run with Albert, but Walter and my parents had happened to be walking by the ship yard when we were about to board.
“No father, I am seventeen and engaged. I am no longer your little pet.” That was it. I had finally put my foot down. Before he could say anything I ran upstairs to my bed room. I carelessly grabbed my suitcase and stuffed in three gowns, a brush, a map, a few extra pounds, and a book. I took one last look at my room. It had pink floral wall paper and a fine oak door. My window looked out onto a blooming garden, white-lace curtains fell from the window like a waterfall. My bed had a simple silk comforter and two plump pillows. A marble vanity sat across from my dresser. A tear moved its way down my cheek.
I went to my dresser and pulled out my only picture of Albert. Albert was in India no. India… that is where I will go. I will go and see him there; I know exactly where he lives. I can only hope he hasn’t moved. Before I leave I will send him a letter informing him that I am coming. Brilliant! It would be an expensive passage though. Luckily I had a few hundred pounds stashed in my drawer. I would need more though, and the only way I could do that was to get it from my father. Solemnly I set my suitcase on my bed, took off my coat, and worked my way down stairs. I had a plan. Quickly I grabbed my money from the drawer and put it into my purse.
“Father!” I cried as I ran into his study. He was talking with my mother. I knew they were talking about me, they spoke in low, irritable tones. They looked up at me, astonished.
“I am so sorry! I know it is out of place to speak with you like that! I was only distressed, because of the wedding! Please forgive me.” I pretended to cry as I wrapped my arms around my fathers’ neck. My mother looked at me pitifully, my father soothed me.
“Oh, you need a day to yourself, don’t you my dear?” They both repeated this as they kissed my cheeks. I nodded my head and they looked at each other.
“Well go dress. Maybe we can go find you a new spring gown!”
“But Father! You have spent too much on the wedding already!”
“But I need to make my pet happy, eh?” I stopped crying and smiled.
“Can I just go alone; I’ll take Fanny with me!”
“That French maid?” He looked surprised. My mother smiled.
“She would be perfect! She used to work in a dress shop in Paris! She will know all of the new fashions! I will call for her immediately!” My mother hugged me then ran, shouting for Fanny. My father rolled his eyes, playfully.
“Well June, old girl, how much does something like this cost?” I thought his question over. I had just barely enough for a passage to India. I knew I would need some extra money.
“If I go to a French tailor, I know it will be expensive, but all the English tailors are so arrogant and their quality is terrible!” To be truthful I haven’t a clue if there really is a big difference.
“Well you must have the best! How about six hundred pounds?” This amount was more then I needed. This amount could buy me four spring gowns.
“That is a lot Father. That could buy four gowns!” I covered my mouth, as if astonished.
“Well you need the best, and you will need some accessories I assume.” He winked at me, handing me a small, but heavy purse.
“Go have fun, my darling.” He kissed the top of my head and before I knew it I was out the door with Fanny. I had only chosen Fanny because she could only speak French. Her English was very bad; she only knew how to say yes Madam/Monsieur.
The day was very dark and rainy, but I felt excited. I tapped the carriage window, requesting that the driver to take me to the ship yard. When we arrived, I quickly got out. The air smelled dreadfully of dead fish. The ship yard was busy making it difficult to press my way over to the chart telling departures. There was only one ship sailing to India. The first-class rooms would cost more than half of my money so I decided to take a second class room.
“Fanny, can you please get me a glass of water, bring it to the carriage, I shall meet you there?” I requested in French. She nodded her head and disappeared into the crowd and fog. Quickly, I made my purchase; I was in luck because there was only one more ticket left in second class. I was also in luck, because I beat Fanny back to the carriage. Before the coachman’s eyes could wander to what I was holding, I hid the ticket in my sleeve. I jumped as Fanny came up behind me. Her hair was frazzled, and she was breathless.
“Mademoiselle.” She held an old mug out toward me. The water had specks of dirt in it.
“Never mind Fanny, but thank you very much.” A look of disappointment crossed her face.
“Coachman take us back home.” Fanny looked confused, as did the coachman. I could only hope they wouldn’t tell my parents. I would have to come up with a lie; luckily Fanny only spoke French fluently.
When I got home, I was instantly bombarded with questions. My mother repeatedly asked where I went and how did it went. Exclaiming about my being home so early.
“Oh, I went to Palm Rosé, the French tailor, but the shop was so full! I decided that I will go tomorrow. Isn’t that right Fanny?” She nods her head and smiles. I ask her this as she takes of my coat. I chose to use Palm Rosé, since it was on the opposite side of town than the shipyard. My parents wouldn’t have a clue of my whereabouts tomorrow. My mother grabbed my purse. I almost panicked, but realized that I had already spent almost everything in the purse on the ticket, before it had been so heavy. Once Fanny was done taking my coat off, I snatched my purse back, remembering the ticket inside it.
“Oh! That place is always so full! Remember June, snatching things is a rude gesture.” With that my mother left the topic at rest, walking down the hall. I followed until I reached the stairs, then I ran up the stairs and into my bed room. Quickly I scribbled a note to Albert and started packing. I packed almost all of my clothing into a small steamer trunk to be delivered to my room on the ship. All of my clothing; sleeping garments, undergarments, accessories, evening gowns, winter coats, seasonal wear, and shoes went into the trunk. I was able to make room for my writing stationery and jewelry. Maybe I should send the note today. Quietly I snuck down stairs only to run into my father.
“What are you doing with such a trunk, is it heavy?”He looked at me confused.
“Mmm, well you see I feel awfully bad for the young girl’s at the orphanage in town. I want to deliver some of my old clothes to them since they don’t have any. I was about to ask you for permission?” My father smiled.
“Of course! What a good old girl I have!” he patted me on the head, “Fanny we need you again!” Fanny appeared quickly.
“Alright darling, do hurry, if you must do it today. Remember that Walter is coming for dinner.”
“Yes father.” He patted my head again and went into his study. Anxiety started to fill my chest.
“Come Fanny.” Fanny held the boxes as I wrapped my shawl around my shoulders, “Hurry Fanny. I need to deliver a letter to a friend. We need to get to the post office before it closes.” She nodded her head and in an instant we were out on the busy streets again. Fanny and the coachman were confused even more when I had them take me to the ship yard again. Quickly I climbed out of the carriage holding my box. I purposely slammed the door shut so Fanny couldn’t get out of the carriage. The crowd was lessening, but the fish stench still surrounded me. I distasted that smell. When the ticket man saw me again he nodded his head.
“Can you send this to my rooms at boarding time tomorrow? My friend is coming along you see and her birthday is during the journey, this is her present. It is very fragile so please do be careful!” The man nodded his head as I handed him the box. I had lied once again, but lying seemed to be the only way I could get to Albert.
“Yes ma’m. What is your room number?” I reached into my purse and pulled out the ticket.
“It is in middle class, one room, door number fifty-two.” The man marked the trunk with a tag. We nodded at one another and I left shoving the ticket into my purse.
I delivered the note at the post office and headed home. All of my clothing was packed. I couldn’t believe I was actually doing this! Just a few more weeks and I would be there. My parents would be completely oblivious. Today I had learned that planning things quickly was sometimes better than making a long drawn-out plan.
The Next Morning
I hugged my mother tightly and kissed her cheek. I hugged my father and left. They were totally oblivious, all of them. Last night was the last dreadful night I would see Walter, excitement started to burst through my body.
“Darling, you’re only going out to get a dress fitted, you don’t need to squeeze us as though you’re going to India,” I laughed at this, “go have fun.” They gave me one more kiss. I waved good bye as Fanny and I climbed into the coach. Rain pattered on the windows. When my house was out of sight I tapped on the window, making the coachman stop. I tell him to go back to the ship yard. Though confused, once again he took me.
“Lovely day isn’t it?” Fanny nodded, looking out the window. Poor Fanny, so easily deceived. I couldn’t believe it myself as I climbed out of the carriage, even the scent of dead fish was appealing. I was almost there!
“Fanny, sorry I keep coming here, there is such a beautiful view by that dock over there. I want your opinion, go over and see for yourself!” I pointed to a dock opposite of where my boat is. She walked to the dock.
“Coachman, I’m so thirsty and my maid as gone to look at the boats by the dock. Can you go find me a glass of water?”
“Of course Miss. Only if you stay by the carriage, I don’t want nobody to steal it or ye. Be careful Miss.” He seemed to know my secret, just something about how he walked away from the carriage and cocked his head. I could hear my boat’s horn and people lining up to board, I had come a little early so I could be one of the first in line.
The boat loomed over me. The steamers seem to touch the sky; even the fog couldn’t hide the vast ship. When I got to the railing a man helped me up. I was ten feet off the ground, deep blue wave’s lapped against the boat. Another man was at the ship entrance checking tickets. The man who was helping me smiled politely and went back down to help the next set of passengers.
“Right you are mum. Your trunk is waiting for you in your room. Percy will lead you.” A red-headed young man led the way. The ships aisles were bright ocean blue and small lights dangle reflecting on the polished wood floors. I was here at last. My room was small, but fresh. A sea-floral patterned wall paper covered my walls. Small carpets were placed beside the bed. The vanity was more of a desk with a three folded mirror on it.
The steamer trunk waited beside the dresser. My hands started to tremble. I wanted to get out of the harbor immediately. I imagined Fanny and the coach driver looking for me anxiously. My stomach turned. To take the thoughts out of my mind, I unpacked and wrote another note to Albert.
Three hours of anxiety passed before the ship embarked. Impatiently I left my room taking the small key with me to the deck. The deck was so high that I felt sick. Down below I spotted my father, a constable, and the coachman arguing. I start to laugh loudly. Some of the passengers waving goodbye to family turned to stare at me. When my father turned his head and looked at the boat, I could tell that he had spotted me. Daringly, I shouted his name. Angrily he looked at me; his red face shining hundreds of feet below me. I waved good bye as the boat begans to move away from the harbor. This was just the beginning of my happily ever after….