“Mary,” Nellie called from just behind her. “Come to my room with me, so we may really talk.” Mary followed Nellie to the beautiful and spacious King’s Room.
Mary sighed. “Oh I do love this room. Did you know this used to be my mother’s room? They say I was born in this very place,” she said as she sat on the bed.
“Is that so?” Nellie laughed. “What is so special about me that I get to stay in your mother’s old room?”
“Well, you are beautiful.” Both girls laughed as Mary went on, “You are kind, brilliant, you will not let anyone tell you what to do. And you are special.” They laughed again. “But…” resumed Mary. “…that is not why you get the important room.”
“Then why?” Nellie giggled.
“Because you are an heiress and my brother is a bachelor.”
Nellie groaned. “What a terrible, terrible reason,” she said, wrinkling her nose. “Does your mother really think it could happen?”
“She seems to hope, at least.”
“She can hope as much as she’d like, but I would rather die. I do love you and would love to have you for a sister. If Richard is the price to pay for that,” Nellie wrinkled her nose again. “Then I will just have to be happy with you for a friend.”
“Richard is rather awful. I am glad you will not have him. Mother has tried to marry me off in the past, but Father intervened and said that it should be my choice. He is always on my side.”
“Do you have anyone in mind now?” prodded Nellie.
“Not at all. There must be so much to do in the world before being ready to settle in only one place. I would die if I did not have Dolly to take me away every day, but we can only go so far before we must come back. I think I would like to marry someday, but not now. We only go to Philadelphia once a year and there aren’t any men I like in Yorktown.”
“Oh, I have just had a brilliant notion!” Nellie laughed.
“What is this now?” asked Mary.
“You should come to live with me in Lancaster! You could have your choice of rooms in my house. Then, you would meet countless eligible men every week. You have not found anyone yet because you have hardly the chance to meet someone out here. Oh please come, it would be such fun,” Nellie pleaded excitedly.
“Mother would certainly approve of this idea. I do not want to leave Father though. He has been ill, and I worry for him,” explained Mary.
“When your father recovers, you should come to Lancaster first thing! Oh I forgot to tell you my one condition,” Nellie’s eyes twinkled. “You must bring Ethan with you.”
Mary laughed. “You should ask him yourself to see his response.”
“All in good time, Mary,” said Nellie mysteriously. “Oh but my dear Mary, I must leave tomorrow first thing.”
“So soon? We have not scared you away have we?”
“No of course not. Well, perhaps a little. I do not think I can bear another dinner sat next to Richard.”
“I cannot fault you for that,” Mary replied.
“My other reason for leaving so soon, is that if I leave now, you will miss me sorely, and be persuaded to stay with me that much sooner.”
In the servants’ quarters of the house, Mrs. Price knocked on Clara’s bedroom door before she proceeded to walk in. “Mother,” Clara said from her bed. “I was just going to sleep.”
“I wanted to give you this,” said her mother, holding a beautiful evening gown. It looked very out of place in the servants’ quarters.
“Where did you get this? It's beautiful, Mother. But when could I ever wear it?”
“I've made this gown for you myself. You will wear it tomorrow at dinner.”
“I don't understand. I will wear my uniform until Miss Mary retires to bed, as I always do.” “Not tomorrow. You will not play the maid tomorrow. Mr. Davenport will speak with you of your new place in this house. He just told me. Oh how I have waited for this day to come!” Mrs. Price clasped her hands together in delight.
Clara was surprised. “What position am I to have? Mother, what does this mean? Am I to be Miss Mary’s companion? Is that why you say I am to have dinner with the family?”
Mrs. Price smiled. “You have been instructed to forget your duties tomorrow and attend dinner with the family. You must have a suitable gown…” Mrs. Price hung the gown over the wardrobe door. “…and now you have one.”
Sample (from Davenport House)
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