Chapter 7

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Kat was in deep trouble now.  

It had all started the morning after her interesting meeting with the fiance, when her mother burst into the room with an excited expression on her little wrinkled and pinched face and a letter in her hand.

“Oh Katherine my dear, you will not believe the news I have! We have been invited to a ball by the Birkenhead family!”

Kat looked at the woman with a blank expression on her face. Lady Abigail look expectantly at her, expecting an excited reaction, but she realised the situation her daughter was in and placed a hand on her chest and laughed.

“Oh I almost forgot my dear daughter, you will not remember them. The Birkenhead family are one of the most prestigious families in london. They do not have any titles, but they have a larger fortune than the royal family! They have an older son, married unfortunately, and two younger girls, much younger than you. They throw big balls every year with the most exquisite decor and themes.”

She placed a hand on her chin and squinted her eyes whilst scanning Kat up and down. 

“Oh I know the most beautiful dress for you, yes I can see it in my head now! A rose copper dress. Oh and long sleeves! Yes, we will visit the dressmaker this afternoon!”

The streets of london were as crowded as the modern day but without the fumes of cars and noises that Kat was used to. This time it was filled with carriages, and the smell of animal faeces. It was not pleasant. Thankfully the dressmakers was not too far away, and she only had to sit in the open top buggy for ten minutes before they were dropped outside of a very glamorous looking shop with ribbons and fabric on display. 

A few newspaper clippings describing the outfits of the aristocratic society that were made by this particular seamstress were hung around the room, showing off the skills of the allusive Madame Couturière.

The bell rang as the door was opened to the shop, and Kat felt all eyes on her. The shop was filled with women looking through fashion plates and fabric samples, and then from the back room a woman made a grand entrance.

Madame Couturière was very tall and angular. She had high cheekbones decorated with a smudge of red rouge and small pouty lips. Her icy blonde hair with streaks of grey in it was twisted into a fashionable bun on top of her head. Her eyes were small and beady, but the brightened as soon as she caught a glimpse of Lady Abigail and Kat. 

“Ah Salut mon a mi! I av missed you!”
Her french accent was heavy, and she glided over to the two women and bent down to air kiss Lady Abigail on both cheeks, making loud “mwah” noises as they pressed their cheeks together. 

“Oh I av ‘eard about your poor daughter and her situation! But no more talk of melancholy, we must find a dress for ze ball!” 

Lady Abigail and Madame Couturière spent the next half hour picking out colours, fabrics and ribbons to decorate the dress. Kat was dragged behind a screen, stripped to her undergarments, and measured for her new gown, but it was all done in a daze, she didn't pay attention to anything, and the voices around her were drowned out. 

It had just hit her that she was going to a ball, when she had never gone to one in her life! She didn't know the dances, the etiquette, or what even happened at a ball. When the fitting was finally over, she went straight home with her mother and collapsed in a heap on her bed. This was a disaster, and she wanted to go home.

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