together in anticipation.
"I beg your pardon?" Emily asked warily.
"I mean, let us see how Robert likes it," the
dowager replied, a sheepish flush staining her cheeks. "He has
excellent taste, you know. Why, you should have seen some of the
gowns he had made up for ... Well, never mind that. Anyway, he is a
great judge of fashion. I should like his opinion. I do not mean to
criticize, my dear, but you were just a tiny bit more conservative
in your selections than I would have preferred. I know that Madame
Dubois was very agreeable to your suggestions, but I think we need
a man's opinion."
Later that evening the dowager sent Tuttle, her own
dresser, to help Emily dress for dinner. This lofty personage was
obviously put out at having to work for someone in Emily's
position, but the dowager had insisted, and Tuttle condescended to
do as she was asked. The dour Tuttle was almost a relief for Emily
after having endured Lottie's endless prattling for the last half
"Oh, miss," Lottie had gushed upon seeing the new
dress lying on the bed, "'tis a lovely gown. It's right glad I am
to see you dress more ... well, you know, more feminine, like.
Thomas told us he had carried in a heap of parcels for you when you
came home this morning. We was all so glad to hear that her
ladyship opened her purse for you. It'll be a rare treat to see you
in such finery, miss."
She went on and on in this vein while Emily waited
patiently for her to finish with the fire and remove the basin of
used water. "Oh! And won't his lordship think you're fine!" Lottie
exclaimed. "Now mind, miss, what I said before. He's a rogue, that
one. When he gets a look at you in that dress ... well, I don't
like to think what might happen. You watch your step, miss."
"Don't worry about me, Lottie," Emily replied,
smiling at the girl's serious expression. "I will keep up my
guard," she teased, "though I am sure it won't be necessary."
"Little you know," Lottie muttered as she left the
Tuttle had made her entrance a few moments later and
began with a close inspection of the new dress. She mutely helped
Emily into it and began fastening the tiny buttons at the back. It
was a dusky rose lutestring, with a high waist and low bodice edged
with Brussels lace. A darker rose satin ribbon tied around the high
waist, just under the bosom, and the ends floated down almost to
the hem. The dress emphasized Emily's tall, slender figure. New
pink kid slippers peeked out from the scalloped hem.
Tuttle next sat Emily down at her dressing table and
began to dress her hair. Emily started to object, being quite
comfortable with her modest chignon, but instead held her tongue.
Tuttle brushed out Emily's long, softly waving hair and then
twisted it into an intricate Grecian knot high up on her head. She
then deftly tugged a few curling tendrils forward near her face and
allowed one long curl to escape at her nape. The loose tendrils had
a softening effect, and the entire result enhanced the impression
of elongated elegance.
Emily stood before the cheval glass and was
astonished. She almost failed to recognize herself, having become
so accustomed to her plain gowns and simple chignon. Emily was not
oblivious to her appearance. She knew that many found her to be
attractive, and had certainly been aware of her effect on the young
men in the household in Kent where she had first been employed as a
governess. She had even suffered a few mild flirtations from more
than one of the dowager's visitors. She continued to affect as
simple and unremarkable an appearance as possible, however, feeling
that her position required that she draw attention away from
herself. This mode had become so natural that Emily had totally
relegated thoughts of her appearance to the back of her mind. She
was therefore dazzled by what she saw reflected in the mirror. She
smiled with genuine pleasure. "Oh, Tuttle. This is quite
wonderful." The normally reticent Tuttle allowed herself a smile