A Village Visit

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Amanda turned from the window, coming with a sigh to sit at the writing desk in their little upstairs sitting room. She picked up the inkwell and tapped it rapidly on the table. Marian glanced through the mirror from where she was brushing out her hair, and Rachel looked up from her book.

"How can you be so calm?" Amanda said. She fiddled with the inkwell until it nearly tipped over, then she firmly pushed it away and clasped her hands in her lap. "If I'd been kissed this week, I should be dancing around the room!"

Amanda watched Rachel's blush spread to her ears. Yes, she and Marian had learned about the eventful ride home from Burley last night—how could they not, when her father had escorted John into the drawing room and sent them all out? Afterward, Father had told her all she needed to know. Rachel and John had an understanding, though conditional. They were waiting for about five months before making anything publicly known. John had insisted his mother would see things in a better light once Dabney had paid handsomely for his team, and the Pearces could feel the match was not so lopsided, either.

"It's not happening, not yet," Rachel insisted. "Amanda, I really can't express how uncomfortable I feel when you talk about it incessantly."

Amanda plunked her chin onto her elbows in a pout. "You're so boring," she said.

"What did you feel," Marian began to ask, then stopped. "Never mind." She stared into the distance and continued brushing her hair.

"No, it's alright," Rachel said with a slow exhale of breath. "You can ask me."

Marian glanced up, meeting her gaze in the mirror. "How can you tell when you start feeling... attraction, more than friendship?"

Rachel studied her, then shrugged. "It's hardly more than friendship, even now. I've imagined myself as his bride, of course, but I'd never mentioned it to him." Her eyes traveled out the window, though she saw nothing there. "I think we just know each other so well, we can figure out how our emotions will interact and from there... everything will work out." She looked back at Marian, her eyebrows scrunched together as if trying to explain it to herself. Marian nodded and looked away.

"Still, what if the person you are to marry is not someone you've known your whole life?" Amanda asked. "How will two people ever really be sure?"

Rachel just shook her head and stared out the window a bit longer. Amanda gazed down at the quill pen in her hand, which she'd picked up and begun twirling between her fingers.

It was hard not to blurt out to Rachel how she was really feeling—extremely jealous. On the night of the dinner party, her heart had fluttered more than once when she read in Dabney's eyes his open, warm regard. As their quiet conversation had taken place near the parlor windows, she'd felt like every sentence discussed revealed a sentiment they both shared—every idea was one they both agreed upon. And that made him feel like he'd been her friend for years, not just a bit over two weeks. He had a way of smiling at her that left her somewhat breathless. She trembled at every touch. They just—connected. She couldn't think of a better word for it.

She hadn't noticed that Rachel had gotten up during her reverie and come to stand beside her. She glanced up, trying to read through her serious expression.

"Amanda, I did want to say... I think you could be right about a person, about their true character, even with only a short acquaintance. It would take some time to know them fully, of course, but if you had a sense of complete honesty from him... well, it's the best start anyone can ask for."

Amanda smiled hopefully. Rachel nodded. "Dabney finds you compelling, intriguing, beautiful." Amanda glanced away with a small shake of her head. "Of course he does. We all know your beauty is clear, and when he finds your heart is pure and good and completely devoted to him?" She waited until Amanda met her eyes again. "Then Marian and I will both be thrilled for you."

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