A white silken hand broke the still facade of the warm spring water, coming up from under, heralding a smooth crown of black hair, and then following that, more hair, an ebony curtain shielding a slender lithe body. Two moments later and the body again slipped into the water, the dark hair fanning out in a half circle on the surface of the water. The body turned, revealing a soft oval shaped face, fair, and pink from the heated water, with angled almond eyes and a pert button nose. Her lips were tinted pink, probably from the time when she bit down on her mouth as she dunked her head below the water. Surronding the large heated tiled pool were layers of white curtains, shielding the private area from prying eyes. Four maids, dressed in the palace colors stood at the ready, a stack of think linen towels and robes waiting for the young lady in the pool.
From outside, a loud voice hailed, " By orders of his Imperial Majesty! For the Lady May Lin to enter the palace! " Immediately, the girl's, May Lin's, eyes widened, and with a quick imperious wave, she called the maids to her side and she stepped out of the pool. As quickly as her bare feel permitted, she was ushered out of the curtains and back into the main house, through a hidden side door and up to her apartments on the second floor. Dried from head to toe, and then her hair squeezed dry by towels and more towels. Only then did her maids begin to dress her. An under dress was tied around her, in the usual embroidered red silk. Her hair still hanging down her back in clumped locks, she then slipped into long loose pants, and over that an over-skirt, then a long, light blue, loose fitting dress with intricately embroidered sleeves. A large embroidered peony starting from the bottom right corner adorned the main dress. Around her neck she wore a strip of navy blue scarf, the mark of a manchu dress. Finally, she was allowed to sit down, and then her maids began to do her hair and paint her face. Her lips were tainted red, and her eyes lined with black ink. Her hair was pulled into sections, twisted, braided, pulled and tugged into a proper style, and then laden with bejeweled butterflies, flowers and tiny sapphire pins before putting on the final step to the costume, the black crown that all ladies in his majesty's court had to wear in the palace.
Consorts, princess, nobles, even the Empress and the Dowager had to wear that crown. It was what was on the crown that dictated one's rank. The more jeweled broches that were pinned on the crown, the higher the regard. Thanks to the favor from both the Emperor and the Empress, May Lin's crown was almost like any other princess. In all, her 'dressing' up took more than an hour. And by the time, she was taken to his Emperor's quarters, it was afternoon.
Once there, she walked in with all her eighteen year old confidence. " May-Lin humbly gives greetings to his Imperial Majesty. May his majesty reign in peace and serenity." She said brightly, bobbing a quick bow. Seeing the Empress, May-Lin added to her greeting, " and may her majesty live for thousands of years."
Bidding her to rise and move forward, the Empress called for tea to be poured. " Jing should be here soon." She said to May-Lin, referring to her daughter. As usual, the emperor had decided that he would want the company of his two favorite children, and summoned them as such. Things like these were the norm in China. Moments later, the princess arrived and they sat together, laughing, chatting and answering the Emperor's queries regarding their studies, and at large, their lives.
" I wonder if here, things would ever resemble home." May-Lin said almost to herself as she walked down Mayfair, her servants from home following respectfully behind and her nanny by her side. The middle aged woman was her wet nurse and her close confidante since her childhood. She sighed and stopped in her steps when a large shadow loomed before her. Looking up, she saw the beautiful architecture of the royal academy and couldn't help but be awed. Looking around her, she spotted many others on the street across, Ladies wearing their colored afternoon promenade gowns, men in their dapper light day suits.
May-Lin herself wore her own clothes, not wanting to so forget her own culture so soon into her days here. The light pink outfit that she wore was cool, meant for the hot summer in China. Her hair was looped and braided, not as tightly as was required in the palace. A set of rose crystals were woven into her braids, then clipped with dainty butterfly clips. Shading her eyes, she angled the English parasol over her shoulder and continued her walk, curious to see what England had to offer.
" I wonder, Nanny, will China be the same when I return?" She asked quietly, a hint of homesickness in her voice.
[ooc: May skips off home, bound for bond street!]