Charlotte Green: pt 3

Fiction By Kassady // 4/3/2013

Part Ⅲ

“One does not cross their legs, ever,” Mrs. Green reprimands Charlotte with an irritated air of one who has sat too long in one attitude.

Charlotte uncrosses her legs, and instead crosses her ankles with an irritable sigh. Her cotton stockings feel tight and restricting as both women wait as patiently as possible. “Mama, when shall Mr. Pearson arrive?”

“Whenever he arrives,” Mrs. Green says as patiently as she capably can.

“Please, Charlotte. Stop slouching, it is a hideous habit that must never be taken up by a lady of your stature. Now behave, and sit with a measure of decorum. Your ill-manners shall get the better, if you do not mind them.”

Charlotte sits a little straighter, her back and breast protesting as her tight corset only tightens more. “How is one to breath, with straight back and crossed ankles?”

“One manages,” Mrs. Green says curtly.

Charlotte sighs, looking heavenwards to the ceiling of the sitting room.
It is a very bright, warm and sunny summer afternoon. The birds sing little, as they seek shelter from the hot burning sun. Everyone remains indoors, feared of heatstroke, or something even more dreadful. Charlotte cannot help but think about the poor farmer who, not having the comfort of going indoors on a hot summers day, must toil away at his gardens and fields.

“Sit still,” Mrs. Green snaps.

Charlotte looks down at her hands, which pick a loose thread in her petticoat. Stopping immediately that which she began unconsciously, she sighs again, trying to remain straight in posture and ladylike with her legs. “I think I must die if I do not move soon.”

“You shall live,” Mrs. Green says shortly and huffs.

Charlotte purses her lips with boredom, looking around for anything that might spark her imagination. Nothing does, except the shawl her mother has round her arms. It’s the same shall from the other day. Charlotte can not fathom how her mother could torture herself with the thing when it is so miserably hot all round. The shawl must be killing her with heatstroke, and if not that, making her increasingly uncomfortable.

“Lord Pearson,” announces a footman.

Charlotte stands quickly, with as much elegance she can muster.

Mrs. Green stands slowly, precisely. “Mr. Pearson. How glad I am to see that you have arrived. How was your ride over? Enjoyable I hope.”
Mr. Pearson takes off his hat and opens his mouth to reply but Mrs. Green beats him to it.
“Well I’m glad. We have longed for your company, these three days,” Mrs. Green sits back down.

Charlotte frowns, not wanting to sit back down, but doing so anyways.

Mr. Pearson steps forward and sits down in one of the light fabric chairs seated around the sunroom, unoccupied. He opens his mouth, and yet again Mrs. Green continues on.
“It has been so dull, and hot without you here. Charlotte has often, on more than occasion bemoaned your absence.”

Charlotte opens her mouth to protest, but a sideways glance from her mother silents her.

“Oh, how rude of me, Mr. Pearson. I have not yet asked how your sport went? Did you fare well? Pray, do tell. Did you enjoy yourself?”

Mr. Pearson smiles, though his eyes skim the room nervously, as if searching for a mountain lion in the potted plants.
“Quite. Quite enjoyable. The forests of West Sussex have always been stocked with plentiful game. We were quite fortunate to go out at the right time. I am of course,” he pauses, shifting in his seat uncomfortably, “very sorry that my sport has kept me from accompanying you all. I regret making you wait for long. It was such a great opportunity, that I couldn’t miss a single day of it.”

“Understandable, Mr. Pearson, of course,” Mrs. Green says, “We would never wish to keep you from enjoying yourself. Do not be sorry for a moment, we are perfectly fine without your company, though we enjoy it so much.”

Charlotte inwardly groans at the ever increasing stretched out truth. Remaining silent has thus far proven effective, in not conversing with Mr. Pearson. But she definitely cannot keep it up, certainly when Mrs. Green looks expectantly in her direction.
“I hear,” Charlotte begins, uncertain and timid, “that your party got lost.”

Mr. Pearson bows his head. His face betrays his embarrassment. “I am afraid we did. But only for a day, and we quickly set up camp. It was quite an adventure.”

Charlotte nods slightly, smiling, “I wish I were there. I love the outdoors.”
Mrs. Green gives her a stern look.

Mr. Pearson smiles broadly, pleased at her interest. “Do you? How wonderful. Don’t you just adore the feeling of the sun on your face, and the smell of mist in the air?”

Charlotte grins, “Yes I do.”

“How I love hunting. Did I ever tell you of the time, when I went out for a little sport and saw a bear?”

Charlotte tries not to sigh. She shakes her head. “No. What happened?” From memory, she could probably recite the story, if it weren’t for the way Mr. Pearson kept changing the size of the bear every time.

“-It was as big as me, on all fours. Probably two times my size standing up.”

Charlotte smiles and laughs at the right moments, wondering if she were to marry the man, would he tell this story their whole lives? She imagined her children, kicking their heels and sighing in exasperation as the bear story just kept coming up over dinner, or over tea.

Charlotte smiles broadly as the story ends. “Oh my, that was such a close encounter. I glad you are alright to tell the tale.”

Mr. Pearson nods, “I’m glad as well. It would have been very unfortunate if the beast had gotten me. In that case, I would have never met you fine and charming ladies.”

Mrs. Green smiles slyly, glancing at Charlotte who forces a pleased smile.
What a charmer, is all Charlotte can think as she smiles and plays lady for the rest of the afternoon.

........

Supper is a very special occasion, at the end of every day, where everyone in the family joins together for discussion, and eating of fine culinary delights. It is the meal of the day, in which all the Green offspring get to see their Papa, without a newspaper hiding his face.

Claire, Bertha, Charlotte, Esther and John all sit at the table. Whilst little Ann eats with nurse in the nursery upstairs.

Mr. Green sits, his speckled grey mustache quivering as he frowns, his bushy eyebrows coming to greet each other in the middle of his forehead.
“What I don’t understand is, why doesn’t Nathaniel tell me himself? Why do I, his father, receive second-hand information of him through my younger daughter?”

Charlotte raises her head indignantly, protesting with injured tone, “Papa, I am sure he would, if he could spare a second stamp. But the fact remains that I, his younger sister, am his favorite.”

Mrs. Green looks up sharply, “Hold your tongue, Charlotte. Remember that you are a lady, and are his Lords offspring.”

Charlotte slumps in her chair, pouting as she watches her other siblings look away from her and towards the head of the table where Mr. Green smiles victoriously; though one could hardly boast for defeating such a young lady in a duel of words, when the battle was won by neither side but a third party.

“Papa,” pipes up John with great interest, “What shall you do about the Cricket match? Could I play?”

“No!” Mr. Green exclaims with a boisterous laugh, “How absurd. Cricket is a man’s sport, little John.”

Bertha sighs daintily beside Charlotte, leaning over to whisper in her younger sisters ear. “With our luck, he will start up talking about the sport and we’ll never finish supper.”

Charlotte smuggles a giggle as she eyes her sister and then her father who begins to explain to little John what stature and strength a gentleman must be of to play Cricket.

Claire, stares at Bertha meaningfully across from her. She smiles and rolls her eyes indiscreetly. She leans over and whispers in Mrs. Green’s ear.

Mrs. Green nods and looks directly across the table, at her husband, on the other end, “Dearest, please. Not at supper.”

Mr. Green’s mustache bristles and his eyebrows come together once again.
“Of course, do excuse me.”

Claire raises her head smiling, “I had a lovely day with Mr. Blithe today.”

Mrs. Green raises her eyebrows, a smile spreading across her face. “Oh? Pleasurable?”

Mr. Green scowls at the turn of the conversation. He glances at his son hopefully, but John has gone back to dissecting his meal. He sighs, “Nathaniel couldn’t come soon enough.”

Claire folds her hands in her lap, smiling, responding to her mother, “Oh very pleasurable. We spent the afternoon on the lake in his little boat, it was ever so much fun. Such pleasant company. I do hope that Mr. Blithe will still call when I am to marry Mr. Medcalf.”

“Marry whom?” Mr. Green blurts out indignantly.

Claire turns her head, in such a graceful, beautiful way it makes Bertha and Charlotte long for her charm and beauty. “Mr. Isaac Medcalf, Papa. Has he not yet come to you for your consent?”

Mr. Green’s mustache quivers, his eyes burning bright in frustration. “No, he did not. How are you so sure that Mr. Medcalf and you are to marry?”

Claire sighs, almost impatiently, “Dear Papa, do not be cross. He is a wealthy gentleman, he’s agreeable in every way. Handsome and kind, everything a gentleman should be. Why shouldn’t we be married? I fancy him, and I am quite certain he fancies me in return.”

Mr. Green gives a loud, short burst of breath, indignantly huffing and puffing. “Absurd!”

Bertha smiles, her sharp features making the smile devious, snide and sarcastic. “Sooner the better. Us poor younger sisters wait on you to fly the nest, have been waiting for quite some time now. A year from now you’ll be considered too old by society, dear Claire.”

Claire smiles back, “Too true, though I have no consideration of what society may think of me.”

“Hush!” Mrs. Green exclaims as if burned by the fire poker. “What an insolent thing to say. Claire, a lady does not speak such things, ever. Goodness,” she starts to fan herself with her hand, “What a horrid thing to say.”

“I am sorry, Mama. The words slipped out before I could contain them.”

Mrs. Green’s face flushes, “Then contain them better.”

Claire bows her head and eats another bite of her supper, going silent, ridiculed.

Bertha pauses, sensing her sisters discomfort. Wishing to draw the attention away from her eldest sister, and on to herself instead, she cleared her throat and proclaims, “Mr. Griffen sent word to me expressing that he would be delighted to join your Cricket match, if there is room for one more player.”

Mr. Green purses his lips excitedly, “Good, I’ll add him to the list.” He turned to look at Charlotte, “Did Nathaniel say how many he would be bringing?”

Charlotte nods her head softly, setting down her water glass and swallowing. “Three, I believe.”

“Good,” Mr. Green nods, pleased at the outcome for his Cricket.

Mrs. Green adds, “Don’t forget dear Mr. Pearson, he said that he would quite enjoy a match.”

Charlotte sighs in exasperation, noticed by Claire who mouths to her, “Be nice.”

Esther looks up from her meal to smile brightly, “Will Uncle Edward be joining us this year?”

Mr. Green frowns, his face going red in doing so. “No, he is occupied elsewhere. The devil.”

“He is such a brilliant bowler,” Esther says, smiling prettily to her other sisters.

“I know,” Mr. Green growls.

Mrs. Green looks at him with reprimand. “Mr. Green.”

“Mrs. Green,” Mr. Green answers back with sarcastic expectantency.

Claire and Bertha exchange looks with each other, and Charlotte smuggles a giggle, hiding it with a cough. The merriment of the young Green offspring has always been and always will be observing their parents squabble; easy, simple, entertainment for everyone.

Charlotte’s eyes gleam merrily and she finishes her food with a final bite. She chews carefully and then says, “So, Papa... you have Nathaniel, his three friends, Mr. Blithe, Mr. Pearson, and yourself; that makes seven, you need four more.”

Claire pipes up, “Mr. Medcalf enjoys the sport, I’m sure if you cannot find anyone else, he’ll be glad to play with you.”

“Well,” Mr. Green says haughtily, “I’m sure we’ll have quite enough players without him, but do thank him for volunteering.”

Claire purses her lips but remains silent.

Bertha frowns in confusion, “Oh? Do you have your own men picked for the four remaining?”

“Yes, indeed,” Mr. Green says smiling superciliously, “Mr. Hambley and his three sons have agreed to play.”

Charlotte grins excitedly, sitting forward over the table to look at her fathers face. “Oh? Gideon is to come?”

Mrs. Green scowls at her, “Contain yourself, Charlotte.”

Charlotte glances at her mother fleetingly, but looks back at her father with a pleased smile spread across her lovely face. “Do tell, Papa. Is Gideon to come home from the University?”

Mr. Green finishes the food in his mouth and nods, “Yes indeed.”

Charlotte claps her hands together in delight, “Oh wonderful! Have I missed him so. How often it is that I reminisce on memories of childhood with him,” she glances at Claire and Bertha with bright eyes, “How we would jump in and out of the gardens and run around. Oh!” she exclaims, “How I wish those days hadn’t gone by with such haste.”

Claire purses her lips curtly at her, “Watch your tongue, dear sister, for indecent words fly faster out of ones lips than the time flies before our eyes.”

Charlotte shuts her mouth quickly, her cheeks burning bright rosy pink.

Mrs. Green nods, “Too true. Listen to your eldest sister, Charlotte, wise her words are.”

Charlotte blushes, looking down at her hands and wishing she had kept her mouth shut. Though embarrassed, she can’t help but glow, still, with excitement from the news that her old playmate shall come again to play with her. That she may spend the summer not in drudgery, behind her mother, but with her darling Gideon, from years gone by.

.....

August 12th, 1852
West Sussex, England.
Dear Diary,
Today has been exceedingly tiring, for a numerous amount of reasons; those of which would be too indecent for I to even dare let slip from my lips to anyone other than you, blessed sheets of paper bound together.

First it was my overbearing mother, early in the morn to wake me, to make sure I dress in one of my prettiest daydresses(the most uncomfortable of them all)for Mr. Pearson, who got back from his sporting.
The whole time he sat talking with us about his tiresome bear story, I couldn’t help but ponder what might happen if I were to marry the dull young man. I’m sure I would hear that story a dozen times a fortnight, and would never have rest from his wearisome hunting boasting. If I have to sit and listen to him speak of which fish is best to catch in the best season, I’m sure I must die.

After Mr. Pearson, Mama, and I came out of the sunroom, it was all talk of balls, from my mother. I love balls, and I did get quite excited when listening to her plan, but the thought of having to dance with the man beside me made me squeamish, to say the least.

Mr. Pearson left (relieving me greatly), which left me with my magisterial mother who prattled on about my behavior, things I should have said, things I shouldn’t have said, etcetera. It makes me itch for the freedom of my own home, though I am sure it will be some years to come.

Mr. Pearson isn’t a rude or haughty man, not in the least. I am sure if I had to, I would marry him. He has a good position, friendly manners, and money. I am honestly too confused and combobulated from all Mama’s lectures, I cannot think straight.

I am overjoyed though, to know that Gideon shall be coming home. I cannot wait to see him, to talk with him. No one else understands, it seems, the way I adore Gideon. I do not find it improper to love ones playmate dearly. What is so indecent about having a good and dear friend? Better than any lady friend, suited by Mama.

Oh and Nathan is to come soon, hopefully. I cannot bear not having him with me. I have no one to talk to. Claire and Bertha just don’t understand me, or respect me. Esther is too young to understand. But Nathan does.

Now I am running out of candle wick, and ink, and must put you, my journal down for the night.

Goodnight,
Lottie.

Comments

:)

I still love this, and can't wait for more! I'm looking forward to the cricket match - and have a feeling something suitor-related will happen at it, hopefully positive. ;) And I wasn't confused at all on names this time. :)

Kyleigh | Thu, 04/04/2013

I'm reading this all

and enjoying it!

Sarah Bethany | Thu, 04/04/2013

Thanks!

Thank you both so much for reading and commenting! It really does mean a lot to me. I'll try to post part 4 soon!

Kassady | Wed, 04/10/2013

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

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