Chapter XLIV

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It was a Saturday of April and the night sky looked clear, "Are you ready?" mother walked in for me to attend the first dinner at Stanley Hall

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It was a Saturday of April and the night sky looked clear, "Are you ready?" mother walked in for me to attend the first dinner at Stanley Hall.

"Sorry I took to sleeping, I will be a little late, I am waiting for Mrs. Miller to shine my shoes."

"Do not take long," she warned and when she left.

My shoes though were under my dress covering my feet, I was ready, everything was in place but it was my courage that I could not find, it had abandoned me when my feet touched these hallowed grounds.

Joseph was right I looked ghastly, my dresses had been tightened to the last button and the rose of my cheeks had faded, I had withered like a flower. What happiness could I bring him or anyone else? Poor Joseph what he had done choosing me to spend his vivacious life with?

"Lady Alice Stewart!" Mrs. Hall received me with no hesitations in the hall as I walked on to join the others.

"Mrs. Hall," we touched hands.

"Oh child you look so thin in your fine dress," she gave a good examination of the new Alice.

"Yes I have gone through some changes."

"I see and I just saw your mother, Mrs. Stewart oh what a lovely and kind woman."

"Yes especially to those whom she enjoys the company of."

"Go on then join her, she is talking with the master now and will we see you after dinner? Mr. Bert said such a thing I think."

"Yes after dinner if it won't intrude on your tasks."

"No please do come around," she smiled and let go of my hand then I could feel my stomach tying into knots before walking in the room, not one singular event in society had made this nervous.

At my arrival Mr. Howard saw me, the severity of his frigid eyes was quick and he did not quit the conversation he was having with my mother.

"Lady Alice Stewart there you are," Mr. Henry Walker greeted me.

"Good evening Mr. Henry," I nodded.

"I am to escort you to dinner," he said.

"Thank you and by any chance is Lord Joseph here?"

"Yes, he will be here soon to escort my sister Miss Lillian," Henry showed me his sister; she was the prettiest of the ladies I saw in the parlor, gold ringlets, big bright eyes, the look of perfect unspoiled youth.

"Good," I nodded and my mother came to us.

"Mr. Henry good evening."

"Good evening Mrs. Stewart, I thought you both would like to meet the rest of my family."

"We certainly would," mother and I followed him and were presented to the respected Walker family.

As the introductions went on mostly I stood constrained by the conversations of people around me unlike Mr. Howard who moved from circles talking like the finest host, though some people found him odd none turned their noses at him and he pleased everyone with his topics even at time his debates of his own satirical nature.

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