Chapter Twenty-Two

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"Are you sure you'll be fine looking after Sebastian for the whole night?" Matthew asked Mrs Baker as the sound of Sebastian running around and shrieking came from the other room.

"We'll be fine. Go and have fun," Mrs Baker waved us out the door, but Matthew still looked anxious. Sebastian was hard to control on the best of the days, but his energy had been out of control when they had arrived just a little while before.

Matthew had been apprehensive about joining us at the ball since Lady Thatcher first presented the idea to him at the shop. He had been working on moving the rubble from the match factory and decided to pop in to try and scavenge some food. Upon finding out who he was, Lady Thatcher had extended her invitation to both him and Christopher and she refused to take no for an answer. He had managed to recruit Mrs Baker into babysitting for the night but still wasn't keen on the idea of leaving him.

"Sebastian will be fine for the evening, Matthew. Perhaps this will do him some good and he'll learn to calm down," James said as he adjusted his tie and jacket. He had spent most of the morning dressing, he even took longer than me.

"I hope so. I don't know how he will be at school if he cannot keep his energy under control."

"That's a conversation for another day. We should get going," Lily said, stopping the conversation before it got too far.

"Rosie, shawl," James said.

"I have it." I produced the shawl from behind my back.

James nodded and closed the door, having it left it open despite Mrs Baked forcing us through it only moments before. Outside the house sat two carriages that Christopher had paid for so that we didn't have to walk through London. He cited the cold weather as his reasoning that morning, but I doubted that was the reason since it wasn't as cold that evening as it had been during the day. In fact, he had paid for the carriages on the grounds that we were dressed in garments that some would class as finery and that came with pickpockets.

I climbed into a carriage with James, Kitty and Christopher and when we were all seated, it pulled away from the house and set off towards the Dance Hall. Darkness had started to set in, and the lamplighters were out with their ladders to illuminate the streets. The thick smoke which filled the air from the factories during the day had dissipated once they had shut down and slowly the stars were starting to emerge, though the approaching clouds were going to block them out.

London at night was always so different from London in the day, but it was far quieter at night and I preferred it when there were fewer people around. Everything was still and the city felt as though it was breathing a sigh of relief and preparing itself for the busy day ahead. It was the only time when all was still, and the chaos of the day had ended. It offered everyone time to breathe.

The carriage continued through the London streets as the lamplighters lit the streetlamps along the way. Soon, the streets were illuminated with the small flicker of the candles as the sun disappeared completely. After a little while longer, the carriage came to a stop outside of a dance hall that Lady Thatcher had hired for the night. Even from outside, the music was loud and boisterous, and I expected the people attending to be the same.

James went to open the door but was promptly stopped the driver who opened the door himself and stood beside it as we climbed out. I lingered behind the others as we walked up the path to the entrance where a man stood with his back straight and his eyes staring straight ahead.

"Mr Northman will confirm your attendance and take your outside coats to place in the cloakroom," the man said.

"Thank you." James dug a coin out of his pocket and handed it over.

The Apprentice Girl // Book 3 in the Rosie Grey seriesWhere stories live. Discover now