SixA Chapter by emily
When I woke up, I could not remember why I was propped up against a wall. All I knew was that my head hurt and my back was so stiff I could barely move.
I was vaguely aware of someone entering the room. Something soft hit me in the head. I groaned and slid down to the floor, not even caring who was there.
“Oh, get up,” an unsympathetic, exasperated voice said.
“No,” I answered, automatically rude. I opened my eyes to see Hannah standing in front of me with her hands on her hips. A pillow was lying next to me. I had not had it last night. It was obviously the object that had been thrown at me.
Hannah nudged me with her toe. “Come on, Adeline. Your mother wants you downstairs. Now.”
I moaned dramatically as she pulled me to my feet and led me out of the attic back into my room.
I paid no attention to Hannah as she bustled about my room. I was thinking about Isaiah. I wondered what he had done last night, after I sent him away. I wondered where he went and whom he told about our fight. I wondered what he was thinking about, working out in the fields. Was he thinking about me?
I did not know what Mama had in store for me today. Hannah had been given a nice, new, light blue dress to put me in. I pressed my palms against the wall as she tightened the strings of my corset and began to speak.
“What the hell did you do to Isaiah last night?” Her tone was controlled but obviously angry and confused.
“Nothing.” Until I knew how much she knew, I would deny everything.
“Nothing,” she repeated bluntly, jerking the strings between phrases. “So when he just came to our cabin in the middle of the night with his heart all broken and going on and on about how he wasn’t good enough, that had nothing to do with you,” she said, her tone rich with sarcasm. Hannah gave another painful pull to the strings. "When he stayed up all night and talked with Eli and Ruben about you rejecting him and something secret in you, that had nothing at all to do with you either, I suppose.”
Hannah turned me to face her. “What did you do?” She put emphasis on every word.
I looked down at the floor. “He told me that he was in love with me.”
Hannah leaned back and shook her head, “That stupid boy.” Her head snapped up and she glared at me. “What did you say to him?” she asked in a hard tone.
I shuffled my feet. “I… I said no.”
She turned me around sharply to face her.
“No,” she said flatly. I did not know if she was repeating what I had said or defying me. “You did not just say no. You told him that he was only a slave. You said, to my brother, that you would never love him because he was worth nothing, that you could never be with someone as lowly as him.”
“That’s not…” I would have said ‘true’, but it was. That was exactly what I had said to him. I felt so guilty I could have died. I started again with a different excuse. “I panicked, Hannah. Why did you tell him that I knew what he was going to say?”
“Because I know you love him too.” Fear leaped up from inside me. “Isaiah may have been fooled by what you done to him last night but I know better. When you look at him it looks like you’re looking at some part of you that’s been missing.” She turned away. “I thought you would have the nerve to tell him.”
I could do nothing more than deny it for what I hoped would be the last time. “There was nothing to tell, Hannah,” I said, trying my best to seem stronger than I was. “I do not love Isaiah.”
“But you mean everything to him,” she went on, not seeming to hear me. “You have no idea how much you matter to him. He couldn’t possibly even put it into words.” I could see she was genuinely, understandably, upset.
“Hannah,” I said, trying a different angle, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do. I can’t change how I feel.” She said nothing, but went to the wardrobe and pulled out my whalebone crinoline. “Oh come now, is that really necessary? Mama must think I’m going to a ball at the governor’s mansion.” Hannah did not reply as she wrestled me into the cage of a hoop skirt. Normally I wouldn’t have objected, but for a Saturday morning this felt a little ridiculous. Whatever Mama had planned, it was not going to be pretty.
Hannah scowled at me as she finally slipped the dress over my head and finished by tying a white ribbon sash around my waist. “You best to go on downstairs, then. Your mother’s just is dying to tell you some kind of news.”
I did not feel like playing her game any longer, so I stalked downstairs into the dining room.
Mama was waiting for me at the breakfast table with an enormous grin on her face. I could only imagine what painful social call she was so excited about.
Her face lit up when she saw me and she motioned for me to sit. I struggled into my chair (my skirt took up three feet on every side of me) and took a seat across from her at the table. Mama continued to beam as she looked at me.
“I have wonderful news, Adeline,” she said excitedly.
That seemed like the greatest understatement ever spoken and I wished I could reply sarcastically, but I knew that all I said was, “Oh?”
“Good news indeed,” she said. “Do you remember Reverend McCalvin?” Who wouldn’t remember our reverend, with his conservative ways and quickness to condemn? I nodded as a slave placed a plate of eggs in front of me. Mama continued, “Well he told me last Sunday that his son, Leroy, has been asking for you!”
Ah, Leroy, or Roy, McCalvin; Could a girl stand within fifty miles of his charm and not run giggling to her friends to confess her secret love? With dark golden hair, light blue eyes, and a smirk that made you feel like he was slowly undressing you, he was quite possibly the most desirable and envied boy in the county.
My mother was waiting for a response so I gave her a, “Hmm…” chewing on my eggs as I thought about it.
“Now I had been hearing all summer that he fancied you but I never thought…well never mind. The important thing is that I invited him over to welcome you home! Roy McCalvin is coming to call on you today!”
I could see the intention in her eyes. I was home now, and she was ready to let me go, ready to marry me off. I was extremely unsure how to react to that. Isaiah was still out there working the field and, maybe, still loving me. How could I have the heart to take on suitors before I figured out how to handle his affections?
But I really didn’t have another choice at this point. My mother looked like she could burst for excitement. And, even taking Isaiah into consideration, I was a southern girl and hardly had a mind to turn down Roy McCalvin.
So I nodded to my mother, popping a grape into my mouth as I said, “I would be delighted to see Mr. McCalvin.”
I briefly looked at Hannah, who was clearing away our plates and bringing coffee, out of the corner of my eye. She narrowed her eyes and looked away.
After breakfast, I spent a good deal of time sitting anxiously with my mother in the parlor with worried thoughts flying around in my head.
I wondered what Isaiah would think if he knew I was meeting Roy. He would be hurt, and I had already hurt him enough. I wondered if I could possibly hurt him anymore than I already had.
After what seemed like ages, a slave girl announced that Mister Leroy McCalvin had arrived. Mama and I stood in anticipation.
Roy strolled casually through the door, looking utterly dashing in a gray suit. He gave me a smile that made me feel that he knew a secret I was keeping, though I had never said more than two words to him. I almost looked down to check that I was still clothed. I could swear that gaze, at very least, managed to make my stockings disappear.
“Good day Missus Dupree.” He took my gloved hand and kissed it, “Miss Dupree.”
“Mister McCalvin,” I said shyly.
He already made me nervous. There was something sly about Roy that I didn’t trust, though he had never done anything to personally offend me. I could not shake the feeling that I was not the first girl to feel so charmed by him and, considering that he was presently in my parlor, those charmed girls could not have had such happy ends to their love story.
“I am so very glad to see you home. I certainly missed seeing you.” What about me could he have possibly missed? I could not recall having a single conversation with Roy.
I did recall Isaiah saying something similar to me, about missing me, but I knew he meant it, and I had missed him too. I had not even remembered the name ‘Roy McCalvin’ until my mother said it to me that very morning.
Nonetheless, I smiled and sweetly said, “Yes, I believe I missed you as well.”
Tea in the parlor was a tedious event. Mother chattered at Roy about my many adventures in Europe, though I could not recall telling her anything I actually did while abroad. I believe that, by the end of the tea, I had dined with the queen and rejected many hopeful dukes.
After a while, while my mother nibbled on a pastry and Roy talked about his university attendance (he was twenty-one and had recently returned from Charleston), I decided that if I spent one more minute in the parlor I would go mad.
So I batted my eyes at Roy and said. “Mister McCalvin, would you like to take a turn about the garden with me?”
“What a wonderful idea, Adeline,” my mother smiled, glad to finally have her plan acknowledged.
“Yes, I would be absolutely delighted,” Roy purred.
I stood and smoothed my skirt. Roy held out his arm and I took it, fighting back my reluctance. Behind the charade, Roy McCalvin was beginning to hold less and less appeal to me. But I was having fun playing the wide eyed, innocent southern belle, so I took the wide brimmed, white flowered hat a slave girl brought to me and walked out the door with Roy.
© 2012 emily
Shelved in 1 LibraryAdded on March 3, 2009
Last Updated on March 13, 2012
AboutHello all! My name is Emily, I'm 18, I am definitely not at home in this tiny MN town, and soon I will be the most famous author my generation. I go to Barnes and Noble to see where my book will sit .. more..
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