Chapter LXXIV

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Though I was ready to disappear from the dinner it would open up gossip if I left early and when Martha found me I was still not under the control of my emotions

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Though I was ready to disappear from the dinner it would open up gossip if I left early and when Martha found me I was still not under the control of my emotions. Mr. Howard had taken away everything at once when he announced his engagement privately upstairs, he made it clear I was no longer worthy of any concern of his for he could not have announced his engagement out of the kindness of his heart for he had some idea what it was like to have the holder of your affections be engaged to another and with this news my fate was sealed.

"There you are my friend, I have been looking..." She gathered my face up in her skinny little hands, "you've been crying."

"Uh no."

"Yes you have, what is the matter?"

"I... I just... Uh wish my mother would get better, I miss her."

"Oh come Alice," she hugged me and I cried again though not as bad as before, "we shall go to church and pray for her then, I know how it soothes you, it will be good for us to pray."

"Yes it will be, thank you Martha."

"Alright then the dinner is about to start and Mr. Henry awaits to escort you," Martha helped me wipe my tears and go back to Henry's arm.

During the dinner everything went as planned according to Joseph and Lilly but without any sign of the big news Martha had mentioned earlier while I followed Mr. Howard's every move, every time his hands touched his soft hair by God I was misery's wife and there was no way out.

After dinner was served we retired to the piano room, Lilly and I played and sang a duet according to Lady Walker's wishes to show me off to some of Joseph's friends of higher society. Singing as always my eyes traveled to Mr. Howard and I saw nothing looking back, as if the world I once knew had been wished away and only a vast unfruitful dark emptiness was left between us.

"What angels are these we have found Joseph?" Mr. Henry said with enthusiasm when we were done singing.

"Brother oh do behave," Lady Lilly blushed.

"Your brother is right, well done the both of you," one of the man invited to the dinner rose his voice while giving me a particular look I did not enjoy as the others joined him in clapping.

"Well we must be going Lord Stanley but we look forward to having you and Mr. Henry at our meeting at the Duke's house." Both men who were unknown to me for I had disappeared when I should have been meeting them shook Joseph's and Henry's hands as Lady Walker looked over with satisfaction.

"Of course it is an honor, we will be there gentlemen," Joseph nodded and the men went away as Mr. Henry looked like he had at last triumphed.

"Good night to all, it was pleasure," they said and as soon as they were out of the room Lady Walker was by her son's side to discuss the dinner.

"Oh Henry, you and Lord Joseph might be the youngest men to be invited to one of these talks," Lady Walker cheered with them.

"Your mother's right we might just be," Joseph said and Lady Lilly smiled hugging him by the arm.

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