Old Fashioned Love Story Ch. 02bypaper_miracle©
That night Elizabeth had not slept. She knew that Jack would not believe her if she told him that her late night visitor had been the doctor...she hadn't wanted the whole town to know before her husband did. However, after Jack's insinuation she had turned her back on him, and tightly grabbing the banister, climbed the stairs and locked herself in their bedroom.
After hearing the front door slam and waiting to make sure that Jack had left, Elizabeth decided to act. The only man she had ever really loved had deserted her, and she was devastated. But she knew what she had to do. There was no place for her in her town any more. Her husband hated her, the townspeople hated her; she had no one, no comfort. Her face pale, her eyes feverishly bright but ringed with dark bags, and her mind set, Elizabeth packed everything she would need and left the house for the first train she could catch.
She left town, leaving no notes and all her memories and hurt behind her. When the train arrived, she had no idea where she was or what she was doing. She only knew that she had to run from her past. Outside it was pouring, so that she felt numb both inside and outside. She struggled in the rain with her bags until she came upon a church. She banged on the gates, but no one came and finally she sank down to the ground, shivering miserably but exhausted enough that she fell asleep.
Later Elizabeth would only remember snatches of what happened.
-She was comforted, dry, with a hot water bottle in her feet, someone clucking over her "poor darling, just a little rest and some nourishment...found her at the gates, half dead..."-
-She was hot, so hot, feverish and restlessly moving under the covers. she called for the only person she knew would come "Jack..." only to be answered by a matronly, "There, there child, everything will be all right, you're in safe hands" and a cool hand soothed her fevered brow, and then she remembered, she would never see Jack again, she had ruined everything and all trying to surprise him-
-White, hot, searing pain cut through her like a knife, making Elizabeth cry out, and she knew her baby, her last link to Jack was gone, but the blackness claimed her before she could think anymore-
*Back in the present*
Elizabeth awoke to bright sunlight streaming into her window and the smell of hot breakfast wafting up to her room. She dressed and washed quickly before going down to the dining room to eat some food; she had a busy day in front of her.
Indeed, all of Elizabeth's days were busy. After recovering from her miscarriage, her zest for life and stubborn manner had not allowed her to quit, and so she had forged on, creating a new life for herself. She had started out helping the nuns, raising money for the church, although she was not really religious. Her perseverance had earned her the respect of the townsfolk and they had welcomed her into their fold. One of her new friends, Louisa Alder, was in need of someone to watch her daughter. Elizabeth took up the task and was given room and board in return.
Today was the day of the masked ball that marked the middle of the Season--when those ladies of age were presented to society. Elizabeth had been involved in everything, from the invitations to the music, and was in her element. There were a few errands she needed to run, call on her friends, and pick up her dress.
Her now good friend, Louisa, accompanied her. The last stop before the seamstress's shop was at Lauren Goodall's house. There they encountered a problem:
"Oh dear, Lizzy, it's so good you're here, we don't know what to do; Ms. Dreyfuss has just called to say her cousin is visiting her for the first time since their childhood and could we accommodate him at the ball. Of course I couldn't say no, seeing as she's such a dear herself, but what will we do with the dance cards."
Lauren was referring to the cards each person received, informing the reader of his or her partner for the remainder of the evening. The committee spent a great deal of time pairing sweethearts and making sure everyone was happy, and even one more person often cost a great deal of aggravation.
Nevertheless, Elizabeth smiled gently at her friend, saying "Well I declare, Ren, you're all flustered. There, there, I have the perfect solution: let him be my partner. I'm sure we can have someone watch the children in shifts, or, if he's a gentleman, we can watch them together.
Her eyes twinkling mischievously, she added "Lord knows I haven't had a real dance partner since your husband broke my foot."
Lauren laughed and answered "That's what you get for being such a big flirt and trying to steal our husbands." She didn't notice the sad and guilty look that flitted across Elizabeth's face, but Louisa did.
"Lizzy darling, are you all right?"
"Oh, I'm fine, just recovering from the fit of blushing from Ren's compliments."
Louisa looked at Elizabeth shrewdly; she knew Elizabeth had something of a past, but she allowed the comment to pass and instead said,
"But on the subject of cards, I thought the remainder was ruined in the rain?"
"Oh that's all right, I'll have Ms. Dreyfuss introduce me...after all, we all know what her costume is, so there shouldn't be much confusion."
After some tea and gossip, Elizabeth and Louisa departed, and after picking up their dresses, retired to their rooms to prepare for the ball.
Elizabeth decided to indulge, and bathed with smelling salts and afterwards liberally applied lotion to soften her skin.
She had chosen a deep forest green dress that tapered at the waist but flowed out and down. The green brought out her eyes, and contrasted admirably with her skin without being over the top. Her hair was piled upon her head in beautiful silky ringlets, revealing her elegant neck surrounded by a thin silver chain with a small emerald dangling down. The final touch was the white mask that covered the upper part of her face.
It had been decided at the last minute that the children should remain in the house under the care of Cook, so Elizabeth accompanied Louisa and her husband, George to the ball. They arrived at the ball, and after George whisked his wife away to dance, Elizabeth spotted Ms. Dreyfuss in her telltale bright red dress, with a tall stranger standing next to her, his back to Elizabeth.
Ms. Dreyfuss saw Elizabeth, and greeted her warmly, tapping her cousin on his shoulder to introduce her. He turned around, and Elizabeth faltered, looking up into warm brown eyes that widened in surprise, and a tan face that paled slightly.
She recovered quickly, and lifting her chin as if in challenge, she said in a calm but impassive voice, "Hello, Jack."