Alice Ruder's mother, opal Ruder, waved her one hand in front of her face to cool herself down. Her other hand was placed over her stomach as if she felt indisposed.
Alice didn't want to pay attention to her mothers little fit, so instead she looked out the small carriage window and watched as the beautiful nature passed her by.
The carriage jerked and Alice flew to the other side of the carriage. The book she was hiding from her mother had fallen from her skirt and onto the carriage floor with a thump.
"What was that?" Opal gasped as she leaned forward to see what had made that noise. Lucky for Alice, her purple dress was just long enough to shield the book underneath it.
The book was Alice's favorite. Wonderland was the name. She loved it mainly, because the main character was a girl. A girl named Alice Ruder. She had always found it to be remarkable that there was someone out there just like her. Fictitious or not.
The carriage jerked again, but Alice was prepared. She gripped the bottom of her seat with her frail fingers, using all her might.
"Mr. Portman!" Opal hollered in a very unlady like manner. "Please do keep on the road! I don't want me daughter dying days before her wedding now do we?"
"Mother. In not going to die. You're overreacting. Were just fine. See? And do watch your proper English. You're gaining that hint of Scottish back." Alice's smooth British voice lingered over to Opal.
"Alice. You are 17 years of age. Watch that tongue of yours." Opal snapped. Alice clamped her mouth shut and grinded her teeth to keep from talking back.
"Were 'ere missus." the coachman said. The carriage rocked back and forth as the the coachman got off his perch to let the Ruder girls out.
Opal directed Alice up the steps that lead to large oak doors that look as if they had come right from a fairytale. Gold fairies flew around small gold flowers that covered small gargoyles. Alice shuddered when she got a clear look at it.
The doors opened before the Ruders had a chance to knock.
"Goddevening. Mr. Montgomery is in his study." the butler announced.
Alice her book tightly to her chest as they walked down the large hallway. Opal glanced back at her daughter and plucked the book from her hands.
"Where did you get this?" Opal asked crossly.
"I... I've had it." Alice reached for her book, but Opal moved her arm away.
"A fairytale?" She aborted as she flipped through it. Alice whimpered.
"Please give it back, mother." Alice begged.
Opal limply handed Alice her book back and rolled her eyes.
"You're too old for that rubbish."
"It's not rubbish." Alice snapped. "Its one of a kind. I've never seen another copy in my life."
"Its worthless. That's what it is." Opal said just as they reached the library's doors.
The butler opened the doors and announced their arrival.
"Mrs. Opal and Ms. Alice Ruder." the butler bowed in front of his master and closed the doors behind him once he left us. No doubt standing behind the doors listening for any gossip he can spread to the maids.
"Goodevening, ladies. I am Simon Montgomery." Mr. Montgomery bowed. Alice and Opal both curtsied and smiled.
"Mr. Montgomery, I'd like you to meet my daughter, Alice. I hope you two get acquainted well. I'll let you two talk while I go freshen up." Opal pinched her daughters arm.
"Buford, take Mrs. Ruder to her quarters and send lucille up to help her." Simon said. The butler came in and directed Opal out the door.
Alice placed her hand across her chest where her corset was the tightest and sucked in a breath.
"You have a very large library." Alice looked around, fascinated.
"Its all yours. If you'd like. I hear we are to be married... How do you feel about such a thing." Simon asked. Alice gripped her book tightly and answered truthfully.
"I find it worthless and improper not to marry a man ones in love with, but if it makes my people happy, I will do what is nessessary." She said in a clipped tone.
"Ah... So you're a people pleaser?" Mr. Montgomery smirked.
"If that's what you call it." Alice took it upon herself to look around the library. "If you must know, my mother likes to go with a bang. She wants a ball. Where you'll propose in front of everybody. A masquerade ball."
"Sounds intriguing." Mr. Montgomery said.
"Yes." Alice ran her hand along his books and sighed. "These books are rubbish." She mocked her mother.
"Yes, they are. This was my fathers library."
"Its very gloomy."
"Indeed. What is that in your hand?" Mr. Montgomery snapped. Alice gave him a curious look.
"My book. And you shant read it. For it is only mine." Alice held it close.
"Don't be selfish. Hand it here." Mr. Montgomery gave her a tight smile.
"No. Keep away from my book." Alice backed away. Mr. Montgomery glared down at her.
"Alice. Im afraid its getting late. Hatty!" he hollered. A small made came in and curtsied. "Take Alice to her sleeping chambers."
Alice was escorted to her quarters by the pretty, young maid. She set her book down on the nightstand and leaned her hands against the wardrobe. Hatty unlaced her corset and Alice let out a sigh of relief.
"Would you like me to run you some bath water?"
Alice sat in the bath and closed her eyes. The steam and hot water felt good on her body. Hatty washed Alice off and helped her into her nightgown.
"Im capable of doing it on my own." She said politely and got into her bed.
"Goodnight, missus." Hatty curtsied as she closed the door behind her, and Alice drifted off to sleep.