Chapter Three

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"Alright, what's the deal, Char?" Diana asked, after locking the door.

Charlie paced, still in her ball gown, and rubbed her arms. She didn't want to let them know of the injustice done to her.

"It–it happened in Boston." She started shakily, "Me and a few of the others girls had snuck out to explore. I–I didn't know anything was wrong until it was too late. He—"

She couldn't finish the sentence. It stayed lodged in her throat and wouldn't come out. Tears prickled at the corner of her eyes and she crossed her arms over her bodice in remembrance of that night. That man had ripped her dress open from the front.

Comprehension dawned in Colleen's eyes, and Diana let loose a string of very unladylike words.

"Oh, Charlie! Do your parents know?"

Charlie laughed bitterly, "Lord, no. How do you think my mother will take it when I'm damaged goods? No man will want a girl who–who's...not..." she couldn't bring herself to finish the sentence. She paced like a caged animal.

"Don't say that."

"It's true! Tell me what man would want a girl who's not pure! Who's ruined!" Her stinging words were met with an ugly silence. Charlie froze, ashamed that she even spoke. Colleen watched her with sad eyes, but it was Diana who spoke.

"My brother."

Charlie stared at her, "R–Richard? I'm not—he's not—we're only friends, Diana, and he must think I hate him after tonight."

Diana looked skeptic, "Whatever you say. I do wish you had told us sooner, Charlie."

Charlie sighed and sat on the bed, suddenly so tired that she couldn't stand. She needed a deep breath, but her tight corset restricted her from anything above a shallow breath. She felt like she was suffocating under the heavy silence that had fallen around her room.

It was all too much. She buried her face in her hands, chocolate curls hiding her hands, and sobbed quietly. Then Diana was there, followed by Colleen. Neither of them said anything; they only offered their friend a comfortable silence that came only with true friends. Words weren't needed to feel Charlie's pain. It hung in the air in the form of heart racking sobs.

The door opened and a basket fell to the ground, spilling its contents of washed linen, "Lady Charlotte? Is everything alright, miss?" It was Robin. She hurriedly picked up the linen, threw it back into the now upturned basket, and moved into the room.

Diana kept an arm around Charlie as Colleen explained to Robin. Robin uttered a few choice words, cursing the man.

With the help of Robin, they managed to remove Charlie's gown and replaced it with nightclothes. Charlie crawled into her covers, curling up on her side. She listened, half awake, to her friends low voices.

"Will she be okay?" Colleen asked.

Diana replied, "I do hope so, though I couldn't imagine leaving her on own."

"I could send out a note to your parents, Lady Colleen, and your brother, Lady Diana. You could stay here with her. I don't want her on her own either." Robin said.

A few minutes later, Diana and Colleen, both clad in Charlie's spare nightclothes, crawled in next to Charlie.

Later in the night, when Charlie was half asleep, she heard her parents enter her bed chamber. She felt someone smooth the hair off her brow and gently kissed.

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