The room is quiet; the only sound the soft rhythm of the woodcased clock. Light is slowly, slowly spreading its wings through the lace curtains on my window, splashing intricate patterns against my companion pillow. My bed is warm, the sheets white and crisp, relaxing me more fully than a bubble bath of rose pedals and gardenias. My nightgown lies soft and silk against my skin. I must get up, but nothing in me wants to, even with the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafting into the room through the heat vents from the kitchen. Tabby sleeps near my feet, stretching her paws as she extends across the quilt. We warm our faces together in morning’s first light.
The wardrobe door is ajar, a peacock blue robe draped over the attached mirror. I gaze at my dresses, wondering which to wear. Something white, I think, something for the countryside. My shoes wait below in strict rows of attention, except for the teal ones from last night’s dancing, tossed in before falling asleep, my mind too busy with swirling and laughter to care. Memories of the party send me deeper inside my sheets, as I recall the ballroom, the human churning of finery and jewels, the orchestra and tables of pheasant, candied plums and champagne.
I’m brought back by the sound of carriages in the cobbled street below, their drivers calling to one another, while coaxing their horses around the turn. The view from my window is memorized, the sounds telling me everything I need to know about the weather and the day. I love the echo of their hooves against the stones, the rattle of the buggy and the squeak of warm leather. I picture the blinders squaring off the eyes of each mare, keeping her focused and straight, and the drivers in their black hats, and waist coats, with carriage whips raised, each one in a hurry. The street is busy now, but it will quiet soon. By eleven social calls will begin. We will only receive Mrs. Eckhart today, so we can leave for the country before two. The fire in the drawing room will be set, scones will be made and the finest black tea steeped in the Devonshire pot. The thought of our new country home with its vast landscape rolling like great emerald waves for untold miles, brightens my imagination. I will miss our London home but it will not be abandoned; only vacated for the summer season.
The crystal doorknob from the hallway turns quietly to the right. If I had not been daydreaming in that direction, I would have missed it. John tiptoes in.
“Oh, you’re up,” he smiles.
“Not exactly” I counter, reaching for him. “Awake but not up.”
John sits to stroke tabby, who is bathed again in warm slumber. Bed springs yield to his weight as he extends his hand in my direction. “Are you ready to become the Mistress of Yorkshire Manor?”