Behind the Pearls

A girl in the 1800's, confined in a life and society where every minute move matters, wishes for the seemingly simple gentleman's life of her brother. But before she knows it, her life switches dramatically, and she starts to discover much more can go on behind the pearls than what first meets the eye.

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1. Behind the Performance

For the fifth time this evening , I huff and pick out the thread from the handkerchief.  I am not one for sewing . Unfortunately I still do  it, but not out of joy, out of sheer boredom. There's little all else which consumes so much time. Which by no means means I'm good at it. It doesn't mean I spend hours stitching intricate patterns of roses and violets. It simply  means I spend hours sewing and undoing the hem until it's perfectly aligned. However, the majority  of the time I'm doing this I sit on the window seat and watch my brother and father shoot clay pigeons with their 'friends'. Otherwise known as the people of ranks who are worth being linked with. 

We aren't a family of trade, no, not at all. We are barely classed as upper class and we need status. Why? Status brings attention, which brings attraction, which brings marriages and proposals. Simple as. It's a predicament for us as there's only three of us siblings; William, Margaret and me. Because William is the only male, he is the only one with slight power, of which he barely has to work for. Margaret and I have to hone our talents, one of which includes embroidery, hence why I'm doing it at this moment. She's a whiz at it, but as for me...I look down at the jaggedy material spread onto my palm. Me, not so much.

“You should really count your blessings you possess musical talent,” a melodic voice chuckles. I glance up and see William leaning on the oak table. 

I snort. “Well, I highly doubt dabbling with the piano will make a great amount of difference to my eligibility.”

“I am certain no gentleman in this neighbourhood would pass a wife who could entertain at balls and luncheons.”

“Mmm,” I mumur.

William flicks one of his chestnut curls from his forehead. “Nevertheless, that's very reason why I'm here. Could you play a tune or two for the men whilst we play cards?”

“And is there anything in it for me?” 

“Well...” William pointedly looks outside. “I may have left my rifle out.” 

I smile. Target practise. That would be just perfect. “Will cocoa be served in the drawing room afterwards?”

“Two sugars and double cream.”

"Fine." I get up and assess my hair in the mirror. A bun sits on top of just about even waves. I clamp a loose strand down with a Bobby pin and then, after a finally satisfied surveil, I head down the corridor. Mother has made it her top priority to drill into myself and Margaret that it is of exceeding importance that we look like a lady and act like a lady all of the time. And I assure you when Mother means something, it's always quite literal.

When I enter the sitting room, I feel William rest his hand on my shoulder. "My dear sister Georgiana." A red flush spreads over my face. I don't need to be introduced. I mutter so to him, but he merely smiles and ushers me towards the piano. My glance casts to the floor as I check my pace. Hasty but just about elegant. Many nights has my Mother had me practise pointing my toes, keeping my shoulders back...all the things that make my bones ache but somehow, bizarrely, add to appeal. I suppose she believes I need 'all the help I can possibly get'.

My fingers skim lightly on the smooth piano keys as I perch on the stool. I do admit the piano is one of my only true loves. It can play any tune, whether that be simple or complex or whether that be loud or soft. The best part is I can control it. Summon up compositions in my head and float away with the melody. I do this now. Closing my eyes, I feel the vibrations of the chords as I press down on the pedal and take each and every note that fall from my fingertips.
Whether what I play is any good I have yet to know. The family praise it and speak of it to any new acquaintance we make. But of course, that must be because there's hardly much else worth praising. 

Once all my energy has been burned out after several songs and several rounds of brandy, I receive a sloppy round of applause. I smile gingerly at the now drunken gentlemen (all apart from William, who has his drink watered down) and make my leave, slyly winking at William as I snatch the leather gloves from the table. 

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