The Marquess' GovernessBride
Emma looked at her eldest daughter Eloise through the mirror and wondered where ten years had gone. Today was a very special day for Eloise, for it was her coming out ball. When Emma had become part of the family, Eloise was only a seven-year-old child who liked to paint, draw, and spend a lot of time in the garden. Now, she was a graceful young woman of ten-and-seven, with lovely long, auburn curls and striking eyes. Emma was sure she was certain to attract many suitors today, but she dearly hoped her daughter would be courting long before she settled down. She wouldn’t know what to do without her.
Emma blinked back tears as she watched the maids working to get Eloise ready for her big night, helping her into her fuchsia-coloured dress and pinning it in strategic places to make it the perfect fit. Once marked, they took it off her again to make the alterations.
“Mama, why are you tearful?” Eloise turned away from the mirror and sat by her knee.
“When a daughter becomes of age and is as beautiful as you are, a mother becomes quite emotional,” Stephanie said kindly. “You will understand it one day.”
Danielle and Stephanie were also in the room, looking just as proud as Emma felt.
“She is becoming too thin,” Danielle observed, inspecting Eloise. “Do you not feed her well, Emma, dearest?”
“Oh, Aunty Danielle, it is the fashion. One must not be too big, and I prefer this size,” Eloise said with a smile. She went back to the mirror and let the maid dress her in her day dress . . . until the time came when she would put on her ballgown again.
Stephanie laughed. “Spoken as a true lady!”
“I do not remember a time when I was as small as that,” Danielle mused as she looked at her own figure.
“Well, my dear, after you have six children, one should not be surprised to find one is a bit bigger than they used to be,” Stephanie said.
“It is fine to speak like that, for you have not put on an ounce, and our dear Emma is always the same,” Danielle complained. “Perhaps I should not indulge myself with chocolates and ices so often.”
“The Marquess loves the way you are, so there is no need to eat less. And you are still very beautiful,” Emma assured her friend. “Besides, neither myself nor Stephanie are as small as we once were. Now, no more talk about size, it is not becoming. Today is all about Eloise, so let us focus on her and the ball.”
“I must congratulate you, Emma, for you have done a wonderful job organising such a grand ball. I believe it is to be much bigger than any of the others you have had over the years, is that correct?” Stephanie asked.
“This is very special, and I would do anything for Eloise,” Emma explained.
“Oh, Mama. You have become sentimental again,” Eloise said. She took out a handkerchief from her dress and wiped away her stepmother’s ears. Emma hugged her tightly.
“I love you, my dearest child,” Emma whispered into her ear.
The door opened suddenly, and in rushed two small people, Emma and Edmund’s own two children, Marion, who was now ten, and Thomas, who was eight. With a find smile, Emma remembered when Eloise and Edmund had playfully argued about what to call the children when they came. Edmund had named their second daughter Marion, as he wanted. When the next one arrived, Eloise had been very pleased and proud as the eldest sister to name her little brother Thomas as she had always wanted.
An older Nanny Meekes, came into the room, huffing a little.
“I apologise, my lady, but it is quite impossible to get these two mischievous children to behave themselves. Perhaps you should think of hiring another nanny.”
“Nanny, do sit down and get your breath back,” Emma said, taking Marion and Thomas by their hands. She made them sit down. “I cannot and will not hire another nanny, for there can be no one else apart from you. We shall get you some help, though, I promise. But we will discuss that later.
“Nanny, I would miss you too much if you left us,” Eloise said as she took her old nanny in her arms.
Nanny smiled and wiped away a tear. “Now look what you’ve made me do,” she softly grumbled. “You were always a good child. I cannot believe how beautiful you have become, and such a graceful lady.”
“It seems like it is a day for crying.” Eloise shook her head in disdain. “And Nanny, you must not tell lies. I was never a good child, and I remember making you run after me just like my naughty sister and brother!”
All laughed at that, and then Marion and Thomas went to sit by their elder sister each taking a hand.
“The ball will be so exciting!” young Marion said. “I cannot wait to wear my dress.”
“And you shall look like a princess, darling Sister, just as you wished for. Do you know, I once was just like you, and sometimes I would go to play in the garden with my lovely dress on. Nanny and Papa were not too happy because I was always getting dirty.”
“That sounds exciting. Can Thomas and I go out to the garden?” Marion asked.
“Not now, dear,” Emma told her. “We are very busy today. As you know it is your sister’s coming out ball, and I have given your governess and Nanny the day off to do as they please. So, there is no one to keep an eye on your mischief. Besides, Nanny is quite fatigued, and she would much prefer to rest.”
Nanny was evidently surprised at this announcement, but she was pleased and very grateful too. Emma could see it in her smile.
“We will not get into any mischief, Mama. We promise.” Thomas peeked his head out from behind Eloise. He was quite a shy creature, whereas Marion was quite forward for her age.
“That may be so, my little darling, but today I cannot let you. Now, go along and play quietly in your chambers. Auntie Stephanie will mind you for a while.”
Emma looked to Stephanie with a question in her eyes, hoping her friend would agree.
“Of course, I will. Children, would you like me to read a book to you?” Stephanie asked, crouching to their height.
“Yes!” they chorused.
“Aunt Stephanie, where is Jacob?” asked Marion.
“Oh, my dear, he will be here soon with his father,” Stephanie said with a smile.
“I like Jacob, he is a lovely friend,” Thomas said brightly. “And he is so much fun, not like Marion.” Thomas stuck his tongue out at Marion.
“Mama! Look what Thomas is doing!” Marion exclaimed crossly.
“Thomas, that is not a nice thing to do,” Emma scolded her son.
“I believe I should take them to the library. Come on children, follow me,” Stephanie said hurriedly before there was a full-blown argument between the two siblings.
Eloise shuddered. “I do not think I will ever have children. They can be so mischievous. But I do love my siblings.”
“Perhaps you will feel differently when you marry,” Danielle said. “Having children is such a blessing.”
“Indeed, it is,” Emma agreed, knowing how Danielle had suffered all those years ago with her fears.
“How do you feel about meeting the queen, Eloise?” asked Danielle. “I remember feeling quite nervous.” She fanned her face with her hands.
“I am quite apprehensive, but it is all a little bit exciting too. I have heard she is very graceful and beautiful,” Eloise said in a tone of awe.
“I wish to see her, certainly,” Emma put in, feeling fresh pride in her daughter.
“Just remember to curtsey and smile, and you will shine,” Danielle said.
The evening arrived far too quickly as far as Emma was concerned. She stood with Edmund, a lump in her throat to see Eloise dressed in her glorious gown mingling with the guests, and she was sure she saw a tear in Edmund’s eye. Everyone had seemed delighted by their daughter’s sophisticated appearance, exclaiming in delight when she came down the staircase, with her mother holding her hand. Danielle and Stephanie stood by their husbands and children, and Eloise’s grandmother and grandfather stood together on the left side of Edmund.
Emma couldn’t stop shedding tears and continued to dab her eyes every so often. Edmund stood beside his wife holding her waist, looking adoringly at their daughter. When Marion and Thomas were brought down by Nanny—who also could not stop crying—they were quite speechless. They had not ever seen their sister looking so grown up.
Emma took Eloise’s hands, “Look at you, my darling. It seems like only yesterday when you were seven and I found you in the garden on my first day as a governess. Little did I know I would be blessed to be a mother to you and be by your side as you grew up.” She leaned into Eloise and whispered, “Elaine, your real mother, would have been so proud to see you today. Edmund tells me you are the image of her.”
Eloise’s real mother was still a secret, her cherished memory protected from Society’s harsh judgement. When Eloise was ready to tell them what she remembered about her mother, Emma and Edmund were sure she would, in her own time. Sometimes, Eloise would tell Emma she had dreams of her mother.
“It is her way of seeing you,” Emma had told her, which had made Eloise very happy.
As hosts of the ball, the Marquess and Marchioness of Everdeane stood together by the door to receive their first guests as the clock chimed nine o’clock.
Emma and Edmund looked at one another and smiled.
“I do love you, dearest,” Edmund told her.
“And I love you,” Emma said, her heart beating as fast as it had when she first seen him, all those years ago.
I hope you enjoyed “The Marquess’ Governess Bride”. I would love to know your opinion!