Tears of His Daughter
Chapter 2: You Do Not UnderstandI sat in my room for most of the afternoon, the carriages coming in and out, some extravagant others simple. They all made their way to my father’s office.
At times I stood there to watch the different men, some in gray suits, others in all black, but they all looked so fancy. And they always came in the pairs of one young man and one young man.
I could smell a delicious salty scent from our grand kitchen, I came in there to find our cooks making my favorite soup, French onion. It smelled so good.
Before the sun went down I walked over to the garden to find mother sitting on the bridge with her toes dipped into the water. She always did that with me when I lost my temper and got angry that would calm me down to just sit and watch the water.
The slow sound of water trickling in between the rocks on the creek bed moved by as I sat down next to my mother keeping my feet away from the water this time.
“Sh…” She cried.
“Mother what is wrong?”
“It’s just,” she wiped away a tear from my face, “tonight, you are leaving me. And I can’t lose you; it was hard enough for that time to come for Dirk, please don’t leave me.”
“Mother, please,” I said as I leaned into her shoulder, “I will always be your Mabel, your little girl to put your trust in. I will always be there for you, and I won’t ever leave you, or father or Oliver.”
I sat there and let her cry on my shoulder until she noticed the sun was going down.
“Dear you have to go now.” She said as she touched my face with her wet fingers.
“Ladies are going to do your makeup. Please be nice to them.” Her voice cracked.
“But moth—!” she pushed me back to the house.
“Just go!” She said and shut the doors behind me.
As I walked up the stairs I was barricaded by women with my dress, a parasol, and a million other things that at this point I could care less about.
I was in my room and the ladies sat me down on a chair. They started with my dress and took it off. Then they wrapped a tight corset around my chest and torso, they tied it tight and forced me to hold my breath for the occasion.
After the tight corset was tied around my chest they lifted my arms up and put the dress over my shoulders. And the tying began of that, compressing my chest yet making the rest of me look so beautiful.
They powdered my face, the sparkled, peachy powder made me cough into my arm. They painted my lips and eyelashes and covered my eyes. When it was done I looked at myself in the mirror. Beautiful it was true, but I was always naturally that way, at least that is what mother told me. They started doing my hair, brushing and pulling and twisting and cutting. After a long time of having them working on my head I had a headache and it was throbbing. I closed my eyes.
“Look alive! We don’t get paid to watch you sleep, now stand.” A woman said, she was large with chestnut colored hair and brown eyes.
I think I preferred it when Wilhelmina did this. Wilhelmina was our maid, she never tied it so tight, never needed to powder my face and always curled my hair nicely and put it up in a messy bun, which was the way I liked it.
When they got me standing I hobbled a bit, the hair weighing on my head. They took off my socks and replaced them with brand new clean ones and tight brand new shoes to my ankle.
They were done, “Masterpiece!” They exclaimed.
“A divine beauty you are dearest. You could easily break a boy’s heart.” She smiled.
I walked away from the crowd of women as they cleaned up the makeup they brought. I took my steps down the stairs and found my father and mother and Oliver looking as fine as ever at the bottom of the stairs for me. As well there were lights strewn across everywhere, there were people knocking at the door waiting to come in, people at the bottom of the staircase and people at the top.
My stomach turned at the sight of all the people. People I did know and people that I didn’t. But all I knew was that most of them looked as happy as ever.
I held onto the banister of the staircase, little scratches indented the wood from Oliver’s buttons. He looked at me as I walked down; his bright eyes stared at me in awe.
“Mabel you look pretty!” he said, he was a sweet boy for twelve years old.
“Thank you Oliver.” I smiled at him.
Mother and father stared at me with mesmerized and happy expressions, both at the same time. They had that look that said, ‘Honey, I am proud of you, and you look dashing tonight’. Truth be told I truly did look great.
My father kissed my forehead, “You go have fun dear.” He smiled as a salty drop of water fell from the corner of his eye.
I smiled back at him and hugged him around the shoulders, I whispered “Thank you father.” In his ear.
I stood there for a moment, unsure of what to do, I found some people I knew who commented on my dress, clothes and other things like that. I found Amelie’s father, he was like my second father, so sweet and gentle.
“Oh Mabel! You look fabulous!” he smiled and hugged me around the shoulders. Monsieur Dumont is of French descent, his accent strong in his speech.
“Why thank you Monsieur Dumont. You are looking pretty debonair yourself.”
“Happy Birthday Mabel, oh and Amelie is waiting for you,” he pointed, “over there.” I smiled and said goodbye to meet Amelie.
She was standing by the grandfather clock eying a boy across the room, her cheeks turned rosy as she saw me. Amelie was a short, tanned skin, and had gorgeous black hair. Tonight it was curled and on her laid a thick violet dress.
“Mabel!” She squealed.
“Amelie!” I smiled and hugged her.
“Oh Mabel you look magnifique!” she spoke her French tongue.
“And you look darling yourself.” I replied.
She looked at me with the kind of expectancy, “I look how?” she smiled in a sinister way.
“Sorry dear, you look…” I remembered what she told me, “chérie.”
“Merci!” she tipped her dark curly hair towards me.
“Je vous en prie! You’re welcome!” I said.
I felt a tap on my shoulder and I spun around to find a young man. “Thomas,” he said, “Thomas Yancey, may I ask for this dance?” I heard Amelie giggle behind me.
“You very much so may.” I smiled and curtsied in front of him.
“You are a gorgeous lady Madam Kingston.” He said.
“Please call me Mabel.”
“Yes Mabel, happy birthday.” He winked at me.
His face was pale, his hair was a sandy blonde, his eyes were a caramel color, and truly he was beautiful. He held my fingers in one hand and pulled the other hand to rest on his shoulders, and then his hand slid to my waist. This wasn’t graceful though, yes very far from it. He danced like his clothes were cardboard boxes and his legs didn’t bend. He twirled me and it ended up being a tangled mess of my arms and his. He pulled me close to kiss me but I backed away, subtly of course.
“So who are you exactly?” I asked as we danced, well ‘danced’.
“I am Thomas, I am rich and gorgeous. Did you realize that?”
“Which part, the gorgeous part? Then yes.”
“Aren’t I?” he looked up past my forehead. “I am also very intelligent, and I have many popular buildings in my name.”
“Really, that sounds like a huge accomplishment.” I said, trying to make it seem like I didn’t want to pull away.
“Doesn’t it?” he said then sighed, “But I really need someone to love, lonesome I am.”
I had no idea what to say; thankfully I was tapped on the shoulder by someone else. He too asked for a dance, and danced we did. For a long time until someone else came and the list really just went on for a long time, not a boy really appealed to me. When the stars filled the skies and the moon rose with a glow most men left. I stood talking with Amelie, when yet another young gentleman came behind me.
“Mabel Kingston?” The young man asked. I recognized this man from church; he sat farther into the back though, whereas mother made us sit in the front.
I turned, the flow of my dress following me in a graceful move. “Why yes Sir McKenzie, it’s great to see you here.”
“And you Miss.” He smiled and kissed the contours of my knuckles.
Drawn, instantly. When we danced it was like I was in a whole different world, the warmth of his body passing to mine like a live wire. He was graceful, his body movements so fluent yet he stared into my eyes through the dance, his dark brown eyes sparkled as we moved.
He twirled me, my mind spinning just as fast as my body. He dipped me, catching my back with his forearm. He kissed my neck; there was a warm feeling when his lips left my skin.
He dragged me by the hand as we left the dance floor, our heels following one by one. He came to the yard where the grass was thick and lay on his back, pulling me down to his side. I lay there, the grass strands entwining between my hairs and scratching at my neck.
“When I saw you for the first time I was mesmerized by your beauty,” he said, “both inner and outer beauty, you are a soft soul with a heart that won’t quit. You care for those who may not care for you and you love people even though you don’t know them.”
For me it was just common courtesy to do so. I tried hard to please myself and to be pleased with the loving or not so loving reactions of others. I often underestimated the power of my heart to the power of the words of other people and that was my downside, but I realized that words don’t matter, God would accept me for who I am and what I love, not for what society expects me to be.
He looked me in the eyes; his were like golden brown jewels, sparkling as the moon watched us.
“Nights like these,” I paused and looked at him, his eyes staring adoringly at me, “I like to lie on the grass and look up at the stars. The nights where you can just sit and listen to the water calm you down and realize that those stars up there are more than what they seem to be. They aren’t just the diamonds you see against a sheet of black; they are their own world, majestic yet fragile, meek yet powerful.”
“You get all this from the stars?” he chuckled.
“Come on, you have to let your imagination go,” I placed a hand on his forehead, “let the world around you disappear.”
Slowly, under my fingers I could feel his blood slow and his pulse come to a rhythmic beat. His eyebrows furrowed every now-and-then and his lips would twitch.
“What do you see?” I asked.
“I see,” he said, “that the stars are telling me that a crazy girl is touching my forehead.”
I chuckled and could feel the blood pulse to my cheeks, I ignored the comment. “You have no imagination. You do not have the mind of a writer. ”
“And you do?” He laughed.
“I’d like to think so.” I smiled in return.
Abruptly he got up and reached for my hand, “Come with me.”
I held his hand back and he pulled me up off the ground. My fingers tied between his, he brought me to the bridge. We stared into the water, our reflections rippling in the cool movement of the abyssal water. I could see his reflection turn to look at my face, his getting closer to mine. Quietly he placed his fingers under my chin and pulled my face up towards his. He stared into my eyes, leaning in closer and closer. Finally his lips touched mine. My heart stopped and my stomach swirled, my head spun. When he pulled his face away he smiled, looking at the bumps that rose on my arm.
“I think you must get back to your party.” He said as his dark brown hair swayed in the breeze.
When my heart started again we were entering the house again. I entered, my father talking to some men who dispersed when I came up to him.
“Well honey,” he chuckled, “how have you enjoyed your party?”
“It has been wonderful father, thank-you.” I kissed his cheek.
“So, I saw you dancing with Thomas Yancey. He’s got a great family line, very rich. Do you like him? Because I do.” He smiled.
“Yes he is great, very tall and handsome, and intelligent too.” But he is rude, proud and provocative to talk to.
“Is there anyone else you liked?” he asked, raising an eyebrow with the question.
“Well, there was this one guy…” I started.
“Hmm…and what was his name?”
“Sir Peter Mackenzie.” I smiled.
His face went hard, unhappy he turned his back towards me. “How would you love an imbecile like that delinquent?”
“Father he is sweet.” I said.
“But his family is not going to be able to support you to if you start a family, they are not rich! They are not famous like Sir Thomas Yancey!”
“Why would you say such—?”
“Wretched things? Because I do not like him, he is not fit to be your husband or the father of my grandchild.” He sneered. “You must go to your room, your party is over.”
I left the foyer and listen from my room as the crowd dispersed from the checkered floors of my house. Mother waited outside in the peace and quiet when father came to get her. She must have heard what he had said to me, she held her parasol above her head and walked in front of him with great speed.
I poured water into a bowl and wiped the makeup from my face, the cool water falling down my skin.
I called for Wilhelmina; she helped me undo the dress. I got out and got in my sleeping arrangements and slept better than I ever had that night.