Chapter 32

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"Oh my goodness, this is terrible, what am I to do?" Lady Rebecca Seymour wailed as her hold tightened on the skirts of her cream engagement dress and she spun around from the tall looking glass to face her cousins, Lady Diana Beaumont and Lady Alicia Kirkpatrick, that bright Friday afternoon in the west wing of the Mansfield estate. The ladies maids at the hems of her dress backed away as the heavy dress whooshed against their faces.

"It isn't even noticeable, I promise," Diana consoled her, her eyes observing the dress carefully. The bodice of the dress was perfectly fitting, cascading down the empire waist line as though it were snow rippling down a slope. Rebecca Seymour tended to make too much of too little, and Diana could not help but agree on that most heartily at the moment. But then again, it was her engagement ball, surely one cannot be blamed to dream of a perfectly flawless event to remember forever. Diana wondered whether she herself would be this fussy when her special day came, a thought that immediately ventured painfully far as she halted the train and put on a bright smile to turn towards Alicia. It seemed to her that the best way to overcome her problems and the painful thoughts they gave rise to, was to just ignore them and hope they go away. 

Lady Margaret Seymour had, much to Diana and Alicia's slight dismay, appointed the ladies as Rebecca's entourage for her dress fitting, an event every lady in their family had claimed to be regretfully busy for.

"I agree," Alicia nodded, "The dress is really admirable, and you look perfect in it. Nobody would be able to tell if anything is amiss."

"Oh, but what if they do? I couldn't possibly bear it if one those wretched Fisher sisters came to me only to tell me that my dress has an extra button in the back! I would be mortified," Rebecca exclaimed, her supposed doom lining her voice, "I can already see their ugly smirks in my mind and I hate it. How I wished mama would've for gone inviting them, I could do with less snakes at my engagement ball out of all places, at least." 

Diana stifled a giggle, before she wondered if the term snakes included her too, and that thought immediately burned out the laugh clean. 

"That horrid french woman, I trusted her with this dress! Oh, mama is dreadfully right for her contempt against the french. They are so utterly unreliable," The bride concluded, huffing as her arms dropped to her sides in defeat. 

"Surely it isn't Madame Carp's fault, Rebecca," Alicia expressed, folding her arms across her chest and narrowing her eyes, "She designed the dress for you, it was her seamstress' job to put it all together. I dare say, the entire french definitely aren't to blame. Besides, Madame Carp's emporium is known for such beautiful dresses, and a single extra button cannot change how your dress looks in its entirety."

"That is easy for you to say," Rebecca counter spoke, her tone still full of frustration, "I bet this wouldn't have happened if it were yours or Diana's dress." 

"That's not fair," Alicia trailed off, her arms dropping to her sides. Even though Rebecca meant it in a counter sort of way, Alicia could not help but agree. Only because she knew that if this were her dress, she would've trusted the madame with it entirely. She wouldn't have pestered the designer with every little detail and she certainly would not have had wrote to her every day reminding the woman of the urgent deadline. Perhaps, not doing those sort of things guaranteed favorable results, but Alicia thought better than to take a seat and explain Rebecca of all of it in detail. 

"Perhaps I could fix it? I can take the button out neatly," Diana suggested quietly and Alicia turned to look at her in surprise. It was an abhorrent suggestion, to tamper with someone's engagement dress, despite how talented Diana could be with the needle, and especially if that someone was Lady Rebecca Seymour. Diana shrugged nonchalantly towards Alicia in response, conveying how totally unaltered she'd be were Rebecca to refuse her offer for help. 

"Fine," the bride declared after a brief observation of herself in the looking glass, "Go for it." 

Diana immediately felt a rush of regret, the thought of being held accountable were something to go wrong had just decided to hit her as though rain might hit the ground. Alicia looked surprised as well, as she exchanged a prompt glance with Diana, wishing her the encouragement that she required, before gesturing a maid to fetch the proper sewing kit. 

The sun shone through the glass panes of the big windows in the dressing hall of the estate. Since Mansfield estate catered to balls and celebrations, the premises had a giant dressing hall upstairs in the west wing. It was strictly declared female quarters, and now processed pairs of mismatched, yet intricately embroidered sofas and arm chairs, with more than twenty dress forms lining the corners of the wide room, and giant looking glasses on the walls at a distance of every feet or so. The wallpaper adorning the room was green, with the intricate and detailed pattern of flowers and birds of a wild nature decorating it. Diana had often been in the west wing, it was where she had gotten fitted for her dress for her birthday celebration last year. Lady Margaret Seymour had claimed most decidedly that all her nieces and sisters were to occupy the use of the dressing hall for any celebratory event in the future. 

"Rebecca, are you alright?" Diana finally inquired, removing her hands away from the dress and looking in the mirror at her elder cousin with an unsure expression. Removing an extra button was apparently a difficult job if the bride kept constantly fidgeting and huffing every other second or so. Alicia looked up from the pieces of fabrics a maid was showing to her a few paces away. 

"It's just-," Rebecca Seymour started, resting both her arms at her waist as though she had just finished a hefty day's work, "I'm nervous." 

Diana's brows furrowed in confusion. Nervous? she certainly hadn't imagined Rebecca out of all people to be nervous on a wedding she so dearly wanted. 

Observing her younger cousin's reaction, the bride continued, "I'm just, it's just- After today, there's no going back. It's my engagement ball tonight, and a week after that, I'll be married. I know I won't regret marrying Mr Ashbrook, but what if he comes to? I know I'm not the interesting sort, I can't say how long it would be before I tire him, but I'm sure it won't be that long."  

"That's a ridiculous thing to say," Diana pointed out, her eyes narrowing as she returned to doing her job with the pesky button still attached to the back of the dress, "Mr Ashbrook wants to marry you because he knows there are far many good qualities in you than you even realize." 

"Yes," Alicia agreed, putting the pieces of fabric she held in her hands aside, "I'm sure he's out there fretting how long it would be before you tire of him."  

Rebecca snorted as she tried to control her giggle, causing both Diana and Alicia to laugh. The younger cousins knew there wasn't much they could ever bond with Rebecca over, but they were glad for this one moment they could all laugh in unison. Maybe this is where their care and concern for their elder cousin comes from, it isn't about how many things they could bond over or agree with, it was just about the little things they could laugh over together at; and that was enough.  

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