"Yes Mr. Henry, of course."
"Everyone it is with the utmost joy we make this announcement!" Mr. Henry held my hand as the people stared at his display of my hand.
"Lady Alice Stewart will soon become my wife!" He shouted and everyone clapped in joyous amazement of the news.
As I looked for Mr. Howard in the crowded room what felt like miles away his face broke my heart when some tears did escape his eyes and I was dealt an invisible push in the middle of my chest. He clapped trying to disappear away from the noisy crowd of people happy for my engagement and I could not blame him for hating me as the change in his eyes was like a sun dimming on our love. We had kissed on the way to church, he had confessed his love, made his proposal and on the way back I was publicly engaged to Mr. Henry, I despised myself in this moment with his anger as if it were my own.
"Oh Lady Alice I know you are modest but do not blame me for telling the world, excitement overtakes me, and the newspaper is a rather boring old-fashioned way to announce such happy news!" Mr. Henry joked and I took the pain with a winning smile as the people chattered about it.
"Um will you excuse me Mr. Henry?"
"Yes go on, go show the ladies your ring, I will be here waiting for you."
Joseph and Arthur surrounded him and while I nodded to the ladies who tried to rip off the ring from my finger with so much touching Cynthia walked past me so I followed her as an excuse to get out of there to go look for Mr. Howard.
"Cynthia is something the matter?"
"How could you even ask such a thing?" She turned around my way as if I was meant to know what was happening.
"Forgive me but what is it?"
"How can you not see it! How is it possible that I am this invisible to you and Martha!"
"Cynthia?" She was more exalted than when she received the news of Arthur and Martha.
"You and Martha, it was always about the both of you, your happiness, your problems, your engagements, it was never about me or what I wanted, what I needed!"
"I am sorry we have made you feel this way, I had no idea..."
"Stop it Alice, stop excusing yourself out of everything for once just admit you are as awful as the rest of us!" Cynthia asked and yes I was just as awful if not more since they knew not of Mr. Howard or mother's situation.
"Alright I am awful, I am truly awful Cynthia" I agreed with her and she began to laugh, increasing in volume, "why are you laughing? Did I say something wrong?"
"Oh God, not even when you say it it's believable, why? Why are you so, so..." She shook her head and began to cry after laughing for so long.
"You are talking in riddles; I do not understand what it is you want."
"What I want is to never be friends with you or Martha again; you have both been the worst with me, only helping yourselves to every opportunity. You stuck to me like a pretty pair of social climbers for your own benefits and look at what it got me, nothing! And you? And her? Everything!" Cynthia shouted at me with such resentment I did not know where to begin to wipe our friendship clean.
"Cynthia you know that is not true, I did not seek your company as a means to an end."
"I know it to be true! Since my family was one of the few families who would dare be seen with someone of poor breeding and little class like you and your servant mother."
"I think you might have had too much to drink this is clearly not you," I ignored her offenses.
"Oh right as soon as one person finally tells the truth there is always someone to ignore, to tweak reality and say the truth is deranged when in fact the truth is simple. You would never have seen the light of day were it not for my family who introduced you into the country society. If we had not been there for you before the Campbells showed up no one would have gone within ten kilometers of your family of impostors who took on the name of the once noble Stewarts." Cynthia continue to hurl insults to my face though I knew most people had been saying this behind my back since I became Lady Alice it hurt me to hear it from a friend.
"What? Say it! Say what you think about me! Pathetic little Cynthia right? She will never marry so I must not hurt her feelings right? I knew mama was wrong when she said it would be good if we were friends, she said I could learn to be more gentle like you, more presentable and amiable but it was not good, she was wrong about all of it! You were never my friend and neither was Martha who had little else to offer but company to me since I had no other ladies to be out in society with and why? Because all the ladies I came out with are married, except for me!"
"Cynthia I understand how this can be difficult for you..." I tried to approach her and hug her to see if she would calm down but she immediately stepped away.
"Oh can you? How? Did you look at your finger? Because I see a ring there or am I blind?"
"Cynthia, please let us talk about this..."
Yet Cynthia ran away up the stairs probably to her room I was caught in a storm, a hurricane blowing everything in my life far, putting my plans in shamble, tearing through my control and I still had to walk into the eye of it with some kind of explanation for the natural disaster happening.
There I went dripping with shame up and into the Tower room where Mr. Howard sat on window overlooking the furious swishing sea outside with about fifteen or so covered canvases crowding the room.
"Mr. Howard," my voice lowly announced itself.
"Get. Out. Alice," he looked back at me with red teary eyes talking through his teeth without his fine suit and neckwear which had been thrown on the floor.
"No," I shook my head swallowing down hard.
"Alice I said!"
"Still I must talk to you," I picked up his things from the floor interrupting his shout.
"I will not waste my breath with you! Please at least this, grant me the relief of never having to see you again!"
Copyright: All Rights Reserved to A. Sena Gomes.
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The Greatest JourneyHistorical Fiction
Miss Alice Stewart is a poor girl, recently fatherless with a mother and two younger siblings to take care when she finds a job in service as a maid with her aunt Mrs. Green. Soon the family she works for loses money and lets go of her, in need of w...