Sad, Sweet Departure

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Amanda was too happy—she was sure it was going to end like a dream of a warm summer night, where one wants to remember every detail but can't, and awakes to find a barren winter. She thrilled every time she woke and found it wasn't a dream. She was to be married in four months!

Rising this morning, she quietly went to her door and listened. She heard no sound. It was rather early, just nine o'clock, for a family who was still out dancing at two a.m. But she could not sleep any more for thinking of the next few days.

First, there would be a trip to Northallerton for shopping. Dabney had mentioned to her last night that he planned to present her in London on their way to Italy. Father had decided that a daughter who was to be married to a Viscount's son and paraded among the peers should have a few nicer things. And since three more orders for carriage teams had come in since Dabney's first visit, Father had promised a bridal gift of 100 pounds—she could shop for a year!

After choosing a pale pink gown, she rang for their maid, Betsy. That put her in mind of another thing Dabney had mentioned. Right now she shared a maid, and had little to no dealings with Cook or Susan, the housekeeper. Last night she had been told by Dabney there would be three times as many maids at their new home, she would have a personal lady's maid to dress her and coif her hair, and he would have a valet, butler, steward, and a man of business! To manage such a household made her head spin.

"Betsy, help me into this," Amanda asked breathily when she appeared. "I do want to look my best today."

"Yes, Miss Amanda," she replied. "Does your Mr. Dabney leave today?"

"Not today, but tomorrow. Oh, I wish I didn't have to be separated! But he says it will only be three weeks. He's got a lot to see to down in Lincolnshire and I do so want our new home to be beautiful!"

"Aye, miss, an' I'm sure it will be," she replied, tucking in the lace trim around the neck and fastening the last button. "Now for your hair, miss," she said, and Amanda sat down with a sigh. It was not her habit to wear such fancy tresses, but her maman had insisted she start learning the patience needed to wear the latest styles. No more plaits or knots that simply tucked in the back of her bonnet—she must have coifs and curling papers and pins and roses every day, not just for a ball.

She sighed as she waited for Betsy to finish. "I apologize, miss," Betsy said. "Your hair's mighty tangled."

"It's fine," she said tightly. She winced as Betsy worked out a knot. "You know, Betsy, Dabney says I'll need a lady's maid in Lincolnshire. Are you much tied down here? Would you want to move on?"

Betsy froze, staring at her mistress in the mirror.

"Is that so bad?"

"No, miss. I beg pardon. I just never have dreamed o' such a grand position." She began brushing out the hair a little more quickly. "I do have all my family here, though it be just myself, my brother, and my mama."

"Will you consider it?" Amanda asked. "The position would probably have a great salary, and you could send back to your family what you didn't need."

"Indeed, miss. Thank you. I'll give you a reply soon."

Amanda smiled. She'd at least have one familiar person at her new home. Otherwise, she'd fear to collapse in hysterics at the newness of it all.

"Oh, and Betsy," Amanda said as she was finishing. "I'd have to take you to Italy, most likely."

Betsy's eyes went round, and she put her hands to her mouth as tears gathered in her eyes. Without saying anymore, she curtsied and flew down the stairs, then out the back door.

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