Title: Fourth Dance
Description: Charlie and Sukey
Charlie Devenish (Rose) - March 28, 2009 04:52 PM (GMT)
Charlie had found himself in a hurry to find his partner for the next dance. It had been pleasant meeting Lord Foxford again and he hoped he would get a chance to finally be introduced to his sister at some point in the evening. Now, he had a dance with a rather less awesome person than Lady Elizabeth. Miss Hutchinson had been introduced by the MC as a most suitable partner. She had seemed pleasant enough, and her extraordinary headdress at least made her easy to find in the crowd.
He appeared before her and bowed. "Miss Hutchinson, do forgive me for my tardiness. We shall still find room in the nearest set, I believe."
Susannah Hutchinson (Amy) - April 3, 2009 05:18 AM (GMT)
Sukey was relieved to find that Mr. Devenish had likewise been delayed, though she made her apologies nonetheless. Allowing him to lead her to the nearest set, she could not help but notice several pairs of eyes staring narrowly at her hair. Her cheeks flushed slightly as she wondered if her partner was among them. However odd Ben had thought it, his friend Mr. Stapleton had made no disparaging remarks, and during that first dance she had been too wrapt in the joys of the ball to notice the scrutiny to which others subjected her. But no, she reminded herself forcefully, she would not submit to the fear of humiliation. She would not allow anything to spoil the evening. With a defiant toss of her head, she took her position in the line, comforted that Mr. Devenish seemed an affable man in addition to being a delight to observe. The thought that he might be secretly mocking her did not even bear consideration.
It would be best, she reasoned, to allow him to open the conversation.
Charlie Devenish (Rose) - April 3, 2009 08:04 PM (GMT)
Charlie was oblivious to any head tossing discomfort on the part of his partner. He bounced slightly on his feet as he waited for the musicians to play the introduction.
"So, Miss Hutchinson, how are you enjoying your first season?" he asked with genuine interest. Everybody seemed to be enjoying it, that he had asked so far, but they all had different ways of putting it (The patroness who had introduced them had informed him that it was the lady's first season.)
Susannah Hutchinson (Amy) - April 8, 2009 03:54 AM (GMT)
It was a question that she had already heard a great deal, both directed toward herself and toward others: part of conventional conversation, she concluded. Everybody else seemed to be uniformly delighted, which made her wonder whether she ought to reply in kind.
“This is, by far, the pleasantest evening of my stay,” she proclaimed, honoring her partner to begin the dance. “I am utterly in awe of the ball. Until now, I have not been much in society, apart from the occasional walk in Hyde Park, which I find very refreshing. Indeed, I feel rather confined in my brother’s house.” She mused for a moment, wondering if she was being unfair. It was hardly Ben’s fault that she had not yet appeared at the theatre or other public places of amusement. He put in long hours and returned in the evenings greatly sapped of his strength. No doubt, even without the visibility other debutantes enjoyed, Sukey met a great many more people here and stood a far better chance of finding a husband than she had in Wiltshire.
“It is what comes of being raised in the open air of the country, I suppose,” she continued, hoping to disguise any hints of discontentment. “I cannot long remain indoors. Are you by nature more inclined to the city or to the country?”
Charlie Devenish (Rose) - April 12, 2009 12:06 PM (GMT)
Charlie immediately felt himself sympathize with the young lady. There were so many very, very fine ladies here that he felt rather intimidated by, but Miss Hutchinson was a much more familiar prospect. She was not so very different from the Misses Prestwich in Rotherham, with whom he always danced at the assemblies.
"I am glad you are enjoying the ball, even if you are a bit in awe of it. I'll tell you a secret: I'm rather in awe of it too!" He grinned at her and danced a figure of eight before replying to her question.
"That's a tricky one, Miss Hutchinson! I think at heart I'm just as much a country boy as you are a country girl, but I do love Town a good deal with all its amusements and the variety of company, so perhaps if you ask me again in a month's time I shall give you a different answer! What part of the country do you come from?"
Susannah Hutchinson (Amy) - April 14, 2009 10:47 PM (GMT)
Sukey returned her partner’s grin. What an amiable gentleman he was! He set her instantly at ease and oddly reminded her of a handsome young clergyman who had once had the living of her local parish. “I hail from Wiltshire,” she revealed, as they progressed up the set. “The town itself is small. You would never have heard of it. My brother, of course, resides in London permanently, and we miss him a great deal at home. The city is very beautiful, in its own way, and to speak truly, I believe it has given me a better appreciation for the country as well. I seldom took time to think the trees and fields beautiful because they surrounded me constantly. They were simply the way of things. Now that I am removed from them, I seem to recall their loveliness more forcibly.”
She paused to complete another figure, then continued, hoping her partner would not take too much interest in her small village or her parents. “However, I find the city most agreeable to my tastes. I must always be doing something, and London affords so many opportunities, as you say.”
Charlie Devenish (Rose) - April 15, 2009 08:16 PM (GMT)
She made sense. Charlie never had thought of being in town making one appreciate the country more, but now that she said it, he understood.
"Yes," he nodded. "I think you are right. I can't say that I find myself missing home at the moment because, as you say, there is so much to do in London, but I did feel like that sometimes when I was at Oxford." By the end of term he always wished to be back home but by the end of each vacation he was wishing himself back at university. Funny thing, that.
"Anyway, of all the things to do in town which do you most look forward to? I'm not sure exactly what ladies like to do."
Susannah Hutchinson (Amy) - April 17, 2009 10:47 PM (GMT)
“Ohh,” Sukey returned teasingly, “it is my turn to tell you a secret: I do not know what ladies like to do either.” She pondered his question for a moment before venturing to reply. “I suppose I am looking forward to the theatre. And I am quite sure that Ben will wish to take me to every exhibit of art or scientific instruments or ancient relics that can be found.” So as not to seem ungrateful, she elaborated. “It is not that I do not delight in what brings him joy; indeed, the truth is, I hope, quite the reverse. But he is engaged in a constant struggle to cultivate my mind and is forever foiled by my preferring to cultivate my acquaintance. I suppose I think people a great deal more fascinating than anything they create.”
Feeling that she had spoken too much at length, she turned the subject back to her partner. “And you? What do young gentlemen like to do in London?”
Charlie Devenish (Rose) - April 20, 2009 11:12 AM (GMT)
Charlie decided on the spot that "Ben", whom he assumed to be the brother she was staying with, was probably a very dull sort of chap to want to take his sister to all these exhibitions. Naturally he did not say so. Instead he replied, "Yes, I quite agree," whole-heartedly to her statement of preferring people to what they created.
As he turned back towards her he wondered how to answer her question. What did young gentlemen like to do in London which they could talk about to a young lady? That would be a more appropriate question.
"Well," he bluffed, "nothing very different from what ladies like, I suppose. Walking in the park, the theatre, opera- all that sort of thing. I imagine that the difference is that we can do all these things unchaperoned."
Susannah Hutchinson (Amy) - April 23, 2009 03:48 AM (GMT)
“Yes,” Sukey mused, recalling her first, ill-advised sojourn into the city. “I learned that very quickly upon my arrival. I am sure gentlemen are permitted to have all sorts of adventures. I do not mean to say that I find chaperones unnecessary, but merely that men have a much easier time of it, going where you please, when you please. Indeed, London is represented as such a dangerous place for single ladies that I am rather amazed at the number it manages to attract.” She surveyed the prestigious assembly from beneath a raised right brow.
“But then,” she reconsidered, “I suppose the same pickpockets and murderers who would assail a helpless female would have few qualms doing the same to gentleman who would very likely carry a great deal more of pecuniary value.” Heavens! she realized with a start. She had been at it again, thinking aloud things better kept to herself. A dozen supper-time reprimands of her youth arose in her mind and, with a frown, she wondered what idea Mr. Devenish would form of her. Over the course of the evening, she had witnessed a number of ladies behaving quite cavalierly in their conversations; it was a skill she might endeavor to master, but as of yet she was too unpracticed to have hope of success. “Oh dear, I fear I have shocked you,” she remarked instead. “I presume the ton looks down upon a lady who speaks of such an indelicate matter as crime.”
Charlie Devenish (Rose) - April 29, 2009 05:33 PM (GMT)
"Shocked?" blinked Charlie. "Not really, sounds pretty sensible, though I do think that most men are likely to be able to protect themselves more than women." He himself was pretty appalling with a sword, but there was no reason for her to know that.
While Charlie's home life had not always been a bed of roses (an alcoholic father even if he was not violent with his family is hardly conducive to domestic happiness) he had been lucky to be brought up with the Fitzgeralds. They were always open and easy with each other. That it might not be proper for a debutante to meditate on highwaymen and defenceless females and then to express herself out loud had not occurred to him. Viola and Olivia would not have hesitated- though admittedly he had rarely seen them former in society higher than the Rotherham fortnightly assembly.
((OOC: I'm so sorry, Amy, I just had a complete block!))
Susannah Hutchinson (Amy) - May 17, 2009 04:57 AM (GMT)
Sukey puzzled over what to say next. She had no intention of continuing down the avenue of imagined crime in such a highbrow setting, despite her partner’s apparent ease. While executing one of the more intricate figures, she attempted to overhear her neighbors’ conversation, hoping that it might inspire her. No such luck. They seemed to be speaking of a gardener’s prize marrows which, though the talk of the town in ~shire, would hardly suit her present purpose. She finally settled on a much more mundane subject. “Have you family in town, Mr. Devenish?”
Charlie Devenish (Rose) - May 24, 2009 03:35 PM (GMT)
Charlie was, as might be expected, completely unfazed by Miss Hutchinson's potential discomfort and hardly noticed the change of subject. His thoughts had already drifted on. In fact, his thoughts had taken him to Viola and Olivia's probable fearlessness, so being asked about family was hardly a great step away.
"Not precisely... no blood relatives anyway. I am staying with Mrs. Greystone and her nieces Ladies Viola and Olivia Fitzgerald; I don't know if you are acquainted." He frowned briefly as they crossed hands. "I haven't heard Viola mention you- Olivia is not yet in town, you see- but she hardly mentions everybody she knows to me! Lord Rotherham sponsored me at Oxford. Her father," Charlie added, realising that his explanation might not have been entirely clear. "You are with family, I suppose, Miss Hutchinson?"
Susannah Hutchinson (Amy) - June 8, 2009 04:50 AM (GMT)
“Yes,” Sukey revealed. “I am staying with my brother. He is much better acquainted with London, but I fear neither of us knows Ladies Viola and Olivia. Ben…” she searched for an appropriate descriptor, “tends to keep to himself. Now that I am arrived, I consider it my duty to bring him out into society rather than the other way around.” She smiled good-humoredly.
“How very good of Lord Rotherham to provide for you at Oxford!” she remarked, thinking of her own brother’s entrance into banking. “And what did you study while there?”
Though she suspected that none of Mr. Devenish’s academic pursuits would particularly interest her, she considered their dance as an excellent opportunity to hone her conversational skills without fear. Besides, Mr. Devenish was appealing, and there could be no harm in learning more about him. Had they met in a country setting, Sukey imagined they might have joined together in playfully taunting the neighborhood sheep or some other form of innocent mischief. Her mother had long ceased scolding her for hanging over fences and “baa”-ing. Mrs. Hutchinson had resigned herself to the reality that, in this regard, her eldest daughter set a very poor example for her sisters. "At least," she had occasionally muttered, "Sukey did not taunt the pigs."
Pity there were no sheep in Hyde Park, or Sukey might have contrived an outing. Oh, the notoriety! she thought suddenly, hiding a smile. Whatever would Ben say?
Charlie Devenish (Rose) - June 9, 2009 09:36 PM (GMT)
"I think," replied Charlie honestly, "that you are not alone in the task of chaperoning your men folk; I am meant to be here to escort Lady Viola but she knows London much better than I do and I fear our roles will end up reversed!"
There was something very frank and down to earth about Miss Hutchinson that Charlie appreciated and called him to reciprocate. A grander and more affected lady would not have drawn such honest self assessment from him.
"I studied theology. I am to be a clergyman," he added unnecessarily. "The fate of a younger son, you see! But I am not unhappy with it. If one must have a profession, at least the church is at least the most respectable."
Charlie did not mean this in a sense derogatory to other professions. He never really thought about other professions. He had had no genius for law or science at school so he had never really entertained thoughts of those careers as would lead from such an interest. But it was true from his limited knowledge of the world that a clergyman was more accepted in society than a lawyer or a doctor was. Lord and Lady Rotherham would be more inclined to meet sociably with Mr. Beverley the vicar than with Dr. Richardson for instance.
Susannah Hutchinson (Amy) - June 18, 2009 07:47 PM (GMT)
A clergyman! How strange that he had immediately reminded her of a man of the cloth. She genuinely liked a good clergyman, and her mother—a parson’s daughter herself—had sometimes lamented that so few young fellows who took orders approached their duties with appropriate reverence. Ben seemed to agree, but noted that false reverence was worse than none at all. Sukey could hardly imagine Mr. Devenish being false about anything, and was more inclined than her mother to forgive any undue levity of youth. To her eye, her partner was perfectly suited to his calling.
“I think I should like to hear your sermons!” she announced honestly. “But is it not quite a challenge to have care of the souls and morals of your fellow man? When will you be ordained?” she added, having completed a figure of the dance.
Though Sukey recognized that Mr. Devenish had meant no offence, she could not help but wonder whether his opinion of her would change if only he knew her brother’s profession. Banking hardly held the glamour of the pulpit, dealing rather too much with temporal matters and man’s darker side.
Charlie Devenish (Rose) - June 23, 2009 11:07 AM (GMT)
Charlie could not help looking at her with some amount of worry. He tried not to think too hard about his future profession, since he inevitably came up against the same points that Miss Hutchinson brought up. Sermons. Taking care of men's souls and morals. But unlike Miss Hutchinson, he thought of them hopelessly and with anxiety. He was sufficiently self aware to believe that he was not at all the best person to offer spiritual guidance. Then he stopped thinking about it all together and prayed blindly that one improved at these things.
"Thank-you, Miss Hutchinson," he replied and then added awkwardly, "I should rather like to hear them myself! In April, all being well, I shall take orders. I shall return to Oxford in the New Year. And then hopefully there will be a living for me in Cheshire."
Susannah Hutchinson (Amy) - June 29, 2009 02:52 PM (GMT)
It did not escape Sukey’s notice that Mr. Devenish had failed to answer the most daring of her questions. She gathered from this omission and the expression of discomfort he betrayed that the gentleman found his spiritual shepherding a complex and daunting issue indeed. That was to his credit, but she could not help thinking that many of the women of his parish might not attend to his sermons closely enough to warrant the concern. Even staid matrons with their thoughts firmly fixed on God could have no objection to fixing their eyes on a pleasant example of His creation. This idle speculation, originating in her own recollections of the past, caused a blush to spring to her cheeks. “You know of course, Mr. Devenish, that an amiable personality is as valuable in a clergyman as a golden tongue. In that respect, there is not a doubt that you will be well-received.” There! She was quite satisfied with her handling of the situation. Though her mind might have strayed, her recovery had been quick.
“Cheshire!” she repeated, after Mr. Devenish mentioned his living, “that is a ways to the north.” Her partner had inquired into her home, she now realized, but she had never returned the question. “Is that your part of the country, then?”
Charlie Devenish (Rose) - July 5, 2009 10:46 AM (GMT)
Charlie did not precisely notice that she blushed, but he did think as he came out of a turn that she was really quite an attractive girl, and how strange it had not occurred to him before! He grinned at her with real pleasure (and some confusion). "That's very kind of you, Miss Hutchinson. I'll remember that when I am quaking in my boots before my first sermon!"
He held out his hands and clasped hers as they galloped down the set.
When they rested at the bottom, he nodded and wondered how to reply to her question. Surely explaining that Cheshire wasn't his county precisely but the living was connected to Lord Surrey's estate which was related because Lord Surrey's estate was a secondary one really belonging to Lord Rotherham who was his neighbour in Yorkshire was unnecessary.
"Well, in a manner of speaking," he said eventually when he had got his breath back. "I'm from Yorkshire, but it's all in the same sort of area."
He had found at university that anything north of Oxford was generally considered a wilderness to the majority of students. He did not imagine that Miss Hutchinson's geographical knowledge would be superior.
"Have you ever been up there?"
Susannah Hutchinson (Amy) - July 7, 2009 02:08 PM (GMT)
“But I can understand you!” blurted Sukey perplexedly, then felt somewhat ashamed. “Forgive me, Mr. Devenish; I am not sure where I had got the idea, but I always believed that people from Yorkshire would have an inscrutable accent. I hope my ignorance has given no offense.” Who had told her such a thing? she wondered. She and her partner were not exactly alike in their speech, but until that moment, she had hardly given it a thought. No interpreter, no hand gestures had been necessary to facilitate communication. Perhaps a few years at Oxford softened the edges of a dialect?
In subdued tones, she continued. “As you have no doubt gathered, I have never been up north. Indeed, I have had very few opportunities for travel at all, much as I enjoy such excursions. What is it like in Yorkshire? Is it very different from here?”
Charlie Devenish (Rose) - July 10, 2009 12:11 PM (GMT)
Charlie burst out into laughter at her perplexity and then quickly stopped, thinking he might have offended her. "I beg your pardon, Miss Hutchinson, but nobody has ever been surprised to be able to understand me before!"
This was not true. But Charlie had a great capacity for forgetfullness and remembering what certain of his classmates had said to him when he had arrived at Eton aged thirteen about his accent and the close vicinity of Yorkshire to Scotland, the North Pole and "where heathen savage barbarians live! Ha ha ha!" was no a priority. Of course, that had been before Will had inflicted on them one of the many punishments that older boys could meat out to younger ones. Charlie remembered that.
"If you spoke to the farm labourers then perhaps you might have difficulties in understanding them, but not the landed gentry. Not with all the influence of Eton and Oxford." He could not help sounding rather proud of his background.
He danced a turn and then replied, "Er, well, it's very different from here of course, but not I imagine from anywhere else in the country." He paused. "Lots of sheep but I expect that there are sheep where you come from as well."
He noticed that the last couple had reached the bottom of the set now and that the dance was finishing. He grinned at her across the now stationary set.
((OOC: Hope you don't mind my winding it up, Amy. We're reaching our two pages now!))
Susannah Hutchinson (Amy) - July 13, 2009 03:49 PM (GMT)
(OOC: No, I don't mind at all. :) )
Sukey grinned right back. After a moment’s discomfort, she felt certain that his laughter had been good-humored rather than mocking, and his comment about sheep struck her as particularly apt after her earlier reflections on the subject. “Yes, we had a great number of sheep,” she returned with a chuckle. “And one sheep looks very much like the next, unless of course they begin to grow their wool in plaid as they near the Scottish border.” A nonsensical joke, perhaps, but one that would have been well-received in her own family.
She gave a polite courtesy as the orchestra struck its last chord. “I thank you, sir, for a most enjoyable dance.”
Charlie Devenish (Rose) - July 18, 2009 09:10 PM (GMT)
Charlie laughed as the music came to an end. "Plaid wool! 'Pon my honour, Miss Hutchinson, if they don't actually have it, they ought to!" Having never been that far north he had no way of telling.
He bowed. "The pleasure was all mine," he replied sincerely and without even realising what a platitude he was uttering. He offered her his arm. "Where may I escort you to?"
He liked Miss Hutchinson. She was unpretentious and friendly and not at all grand. He wondered if Viola knew her. "Or perhaps I could introduce you to Lady Viola if she is anywhere close by?"
He scanned the room and eventually caught sight of her leaving a different set with the man who had first escorted her when they had entered the rooms, Lord Gabriel Pritchard. She was too far away to be useful and seemed deep in conversation. "Oh, she is engaged I believe. Well, another time I hope!" He smiled at her, while wishing he had not been so free as to offer an introduction it was clearly inappropriate to make right now.
Susannah Hutchinson (Amy) - July 29, 2009 11:08 PM (GMT)
That her partner should have been willing to introduce her to his friends made Sukey beam inwardly. She was certain that Lady Viola must be very affable. To think! Ben had been in town for years, and though he had a wide acquaintance on account of his profession, he hardy really knew anybody! But London was full of people worth knowing, and Sukey hoped that her brother might acquire a taste for society now that he could no longer avoid it. There was, of course, Mr. Stapleton, a delightful gentleman to be sure…hmm. She realized she had hardly seen him since the first dance, and briefly wondered where he had got to. On the whole, however, Ben ought to befriend more people. Perhaps Mr. Devenish might be one of them. She liked the thought of his stopping by now and then and livening up the day.
“I should be very pleased to make Lady Viola’s acquaintance,” she began, “at a more convenient moment.” Any mistake on the gentleman’s part went completely unnoticed; Sukey merely concealed her disappointment as best she could (which was not terribly well) and suggested an alternative. “Might you escort me back to my brother instead, Mr. Devenish?”
Charlie Devenish (Rose) - August 4, 2009 03:42 PM (GMT)
"Of course," replied Charlie, offering her his arm, relieved that she did not seem put out by Viola's unavailability. "I should be pleased to meet him.
They soon met Mr. Hutchinson, who seemed a pleasant gentleman. After a few minutes' conversation, Charlie bowed to both siblings, much pleased with them and moved on to find his next partner.
((OOC: Hope you don't mind my wrapping up like this! We should have Ben and Charlie meet some time for sure I think!))