Title: Twelve O' Clock -- Penultimate Dance
Description: George and Cassandra
Cassandra Edgeworth (Francesca) - May 13, 2009 10:30 PM (GMT)
There had very little time to mull over the events that had transpired in the course of the previous dance when Cassandra's next partner appeared. Lord Selwyn, she had been told, was a very eligible young man - rich, titled, and handsome besides. She had chosen deliberately to ignore the significant tones in which her aunt had sung this litany of virtues. After all, she was not yet at the stage where she needed to dangle after a husband. However, it was undoubtedly pleasant to dance with an attractive partner - provided of course, that the face did not belie the persona.
"It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, my Lord", she murmured, curtseying to him. "I hope you have spent a pleasant evening thus far?" She darted a covert glance at him and decided that he had about him the distinct air of gravity around him. This was a cause not for alarm perhaps but for some concern. Brooders, Cassandra had come to realise, needed to be treated with a certain degree of delicacy. She was willing to believe however, that her initial impressions had been wrong. For one thing, she had not yet talked to man.
George Hackett (Rose) - May 15, 2009 12:20 PM (GMT)
George had to admit that he was flagging. By this point supper was just a distant memory (and not even a particularly pleasant one- he longed for the prosecco and olives and hot flat breads of Italian parties) and George was running out of topics of conversation. At the start of the evening, he had been genuinely interested in how Lady Julianne found the season so far and what she had done. By the time he had been talking on the same subject to Lady Prudence, he had run out of both inspiration and enthusiasm. Miss Pritchard had been the last partner he had actually enjoyed dancing with. Her enthusiasm for the evening had been infectious, her opinions which were sometimes rather immature were at least amusing and she had expressed what he thought was a genuine (for once) interest in his travels.
At least this Lady Cassandra Edgeworth was the last unmarried woman he was going to dance with. She appeared a pretty-ish young lady, though not as stunning as some of the ones he had danced with and she had the advantage of an open and good humoured countenance, and she talked to him directly.
"Likewise, Lady Cassandra," he replied, taking her hand and leading her to the set. "It has indeed been very pleasant, a delightful start to the season." He tried to conceal the tiredness from his voice and to make up for his lack of enthusiasm, asked her with more of a smile than he would normally have used, "And yourself? I understand you make your debut tonight. Has it been everything you could have wished for?"
Cassandra Edgeworth (Francesca) - May 17, 2009 01:38 AM (GMT)
Cassandra tilted her head slightly to one side as she considered her partner's question. "It is surprisingly difficult to answer such a question, Lord Selwyn", she said. "The thing about novel situations is of course that one never knows exactly what to expect from them, or what might constitute a reasonable wish. Unreasonable wishes are very inconvenient things to have after all, are they not? I will say however, that it has been an interesting experience, and I have had a very pleasant evening too."
She looked up at him and smiled. "And you sir, did you have expectations of this evening prior to your arrival, or did you come as I did, uncertain about what to look for but eager to appreciate? I understand that you have been abroad recently, and I would assume that the social scene is quite different in many respects. Pray how does England compare, in your opinion?"
George Hackett (Rose) - May 24, 2009 01:04 PM (GMT)
Yes, unreasonable wishes were certainly very inconvenient... George knew all about that.
She asked a lot of questions... George decided to ignore her first set. He had been uncertain of what to look for in the sense that he did not know what kind of lady would attract him the most, but he had known in general what to expect. He had no intention of confessing to Lady Cassandra that he had come to the ball solely to find a wife.
Instead, he focused on the question about Italy. "Well, Italy and England are very different, your Ladyship must understand. Italy is much less formal in its social events. I don't think that ladies would need so much chaperoning at a party like this over there. And the food is much better!"
Cassandra Edgeworth (Francesca) - May 27, 2009 04:51 PM (GMT)
Lord Selwyn's description of social events in Italy could not exactly be termed vivid. He had claimed that the two countries were very different - a statement that Cassandra had little trouble believing - but had not confirmed the assertion with particularly convincing evidence. His picture was painted in broad strokes, eliding the small quirks and details that made for an interesting account. Nevertheless, she had not yet tired of the subject and decided to pry a little further.
"My experience is naturally very limited", she said thoughtfully. "But the prospect of an informal ball seems a little strange to me. Is not a ball by virtue of its very definition supposed to be formal? What else would distinguish this from a more relaxed affair at a country assembly, for example, apart of course from the number of people in attendance?"
She laughed slightly at his comment about chaperonage. "Are young ladies in Italy so very naturally inclined to good behaviour then?" she asked. "Or are mild improprieties looked on with less severity?" She paused to consider his opinion of the food. "I take it then that women in Italy are not expected to eat as delicately as sparrows at dances for fear of being considered unladylike?" she said. "Providing superior refreshments at London balls might turn out to be quite disastrous, you know", she continued, with a grin that refused to repress itself. "Some of our number might not be able to resist the temptation and the consequent social censure would be quite dreadful!"
George Hackett (Rose) - June 23, 2009 03:13 PM (GMT)
((OOC: And a month later...))
"I don't think," George replied thoughtfully, "that it is so much that the balls are informal, more that the Italian understanding of formality is less strict than our own."
If that made any sense. George felt that if he continued on this line he would probably bore Lady Cassandra. She seemed intelligent and interested, but perhaps he was imposing his own interest too much on her.
"I hope," he added with a small smile, "that social censure would really result if the ball were actually improved upon!"
Cassandra Edgeworth (Francesca) - July 1, 2009 09:28 AM (GMT)
Cassandra blinked at her partner. He hopes that improvements to the ball will result in social censure? she wondered to herself in some confusion. “Oh dear me! How...singular”, she said lamely. Indeed, unless his lordship had been speaking ironically, it seemed an exceedingly peculiar wish. Of course, there was always the possibility that Lord Selwyn believed that women should nibble and peck at parties while their male counterparts gorged themselves. It was a foolish opinion no doubt, and a selfish one too, but one that was almost certainly shared by many people.
She did not convey these thoughts to the viscount. After all, it was only charitable to withhold opinions on his intelligence till she had furthered their acquaintance. Indeed, he did not appear to be a foolish man, merely ill equipped to conduct an easy conversation. They had clearly exhausted the topic of his travels and Cassandra racked her brains for a suitable topic to talk about for the remainder of their dance. They could dance in silence, she supposed, but it seemed a rather tedious prospect.
“Are you happy to be home again?” she asked. It was, she supposed, a rather personal question, but she had been wondering whether it was duty or inclination that had brought him back to his native shores, and a direct approach seemed as good as any.
George Hackett (Rose) - July 5, 2009 04:09 PM (GMT)
((OOC: Yeah, so I don't know what George was talking about either there...))
After a short pause in which they danced quietly together, she asked another question. It was personal and not one that George was obviously going to answer honestly. No, he was not happy to have to leave the woman he loved and his own son to return to a country that was far too cold and where he had to see his father and sister on a regular basis. On the other hand, to have ignored the call of duty when it was as strong as it was would have been too much against his character to make him happy.
"I suppose so," he replied eventually. "It is nice to be back in England and to always understand everything being said!" He smiled consciously. His Italian was not bad at all, but near fluency in a language is quite different to hearing and being able to speak one's native tongue all the time. "But I confess I miss Italy."
And his son and Patrizia. He said no more, plunged back into memories.
Cassandra Edgeworth (Francesca) - July 6, 2009 12:46 PM (GMT)
At least her question had been answered. Lord Selwyn's tone made it evident enough that he had returned to England more from a sense of obligation than any genuine desire, despite his assertion that it was nice to be able to speak English again. On the other hand, their previous conversation about Italy had not precisely inspired him to descriptions of rapture either, so he couldn't be missing it all that badly. It seemed apparent to Cassandra that Lord Selwyn was more drawn to the escape it represented than any actual love for the country.
The question remained: why would he want to escape? She narrowed her eyes as she studied her partner. Just as I thought. Quite certainly the dark, poetic, brooding sort. It all made perfect sense to her now. Lord Selwyn had escaped to Italy after suffering from a broken heart. Having been compelled by circumstances to return to his native shores, he was struck once again by the burden of his memories. One could forgive a man for being taciturn under such circumstances, she decided generously. Oh heavens! Perhaps she was here tonight and he was suffering renewed agonies of heartbreak and mortification. He had left years ago - she must certainly be married by now. Worse and worse! Who could she be? It was all most intriguing.
Well entertained with her own yarn-spinning, she turned her attention back to Lord Selwyn. "I am sorry to hear that", she responded when he confessed to missing Italy. "Perhaps England will grow on you again." It was only to be hoped that it would since he would likely have to spend a great deal of time here, unrequited love or not. A sudden thought struck her. "Were you ever in Ferrara?" she asked. "I do not suppose there is very much left there now", she mused half to herself. "But it must have been magnificent during the fifteenth century." Certainly, the court poets had produced some of the greatest poetry ever written in Italian. "Which cities did you visit during your stay, my lord?"
George Hackett (Rose) - July 10, 2009 12:55 PM (GMT)
He bowed in acknowledgement but did not reply to her hope that his impression of England would improve. George did not see anything bad in it, if he did not compare it with Italy.
"Ferrara?" He thought it was an odd choice of city to choose to mention, at least compared to Rome, Florence or Venice. "Yes, I did visit there on the way from Venice to Bologna, but I did not stop there long. A very beautiful city, but so were they all. My villa was outside Firenze, Florence that is, but I also spent time in Roma, Napoli, Mantova and Verona and visited many more places. Do you have an interest in Ferrara in particular, Lady Cassandra?"
Cassandra Edgeworth (Francesca) - July 17, 2009 02:44 PM (GMT)
If they had not been dancing, Cassandra would almost certainly have clasped her hands at her bosom before heaving a wistful sigh. As it was, she had to content herself with only the latter action as a means of expressing her sentiments. "It sounds heavenly", she said sincerely. The mere names themselves seem so imbued with glamour and romance. And bad drainage and foul smells too, she could picture her father saying wryly. She tossed her head. She was sure she could tolerate a little stink just to see the cities that Lord Selwyn had named. It was not as though all of London smelled of roses, after all!
She flushed slightly as her partner inquired into her curiosity about Ferrara. For some reason, the prospect of talking about her particular interests made her feel a little self-conscious. It was something of a castle in the sky for her and she did not particularly care to hold it up to the scrutiny of others. "Oh, it is nothing", she said lightly. "Merely that I take pleasure in Italian poetry and the court of Ferrara was known for its patronage of literary talent during the Renaissance. Ludovico Ariosto for instance. However, I dare say that looking at paintings or sculpture from the period would make for a more aesthetically satisfying journey."
George Hackett (Rose) - July 21, 2009 12:24 AM (GMT)
George smiled at her enthusiasm but his opinion of Lady Cassandra improved from a rather dull young lady to one of considerable interest at her confession that she was interested in Italian poetry.
"I would not have had you Ladyship down as an admirer of Italian poetry, but it is a pleasant surprise I am sure, and in truth while the paintings and sculptures do add a great deal, I am principally an admirer of literature and classical literature at that, so I share your enthusiasm."
He hoped it was enthusiasm anyway.
"Do you read in Italian or is there a translation of Orlando Furioso into English?"
((OOC: I have NO IDEA why I am trying to research this at 1am. I know nothing about Ariosto.))
Cassandra Edgeworth (Francesca) - July 22, 2009 04:25 PM (GMT)
((OOC: I studied Orlando Furioso last year and it's got knights, and quests, and damsels in distress, and a little bit of Erasmus-ish folly thrown in - just the sort of poem Cassandra would like. :P))
"Both", she replied promptly. Lord Selwyn's smile seemed to indicate that professing a love for Italian poetry was quite unexceptionable, and as a result, Cassandra had few qualms about sharing her own experience. "The first English translation was accomplished some time in the sixteenth century, I believe, and there have been several translations since, some of them better than others, but none quite as picturesque as the original."
She shrugged slightly. "But that is so frequently the case, would you not agree not my Lord? Unless of course, you have been fortunate enough to jump straight into the original texts and eschew translations altogether. But tell me, what sort of literature do you most admire?"
George Hackett (Rose) - August 8, 2009 11:53 AM (GMT)
It was a shame that the dance was so close to finishing now just when Lady Cassandra was beginning to appear interesting!
"Yes, I do agree," he replied, as they stopped dancing and bowed and curtsied to each other. "I am most interested, I suppose, in classical literature which I am able to read in the original languages. I enjoy history, though I know that is rarely popular with young ladies. It is always a pleasure however when the historian is the likes of Tacitus or Herodotus."
He held out his arm to her. "Let me thank you for a delightful dance, Lady Cassandra."