"Ow, that hurts, Lottie!"
"It's the style nowadays, miss. Just one more loop, then I'll be done."
Rebecca Breckenridge had her hands clasped tightly about her abdomen as her servant girl fastened the many strands of ribbon that pulled the corset tight about her bosom. So tight, in fact, that Rebecca wasn't sure if she would be able to breath that night. "I don't know why Father had this fashioned like so, he knows how I hate being dolled up like this." She almost had to gasp, with her chest constricted so badly that one sentence left her breathless.
"Lottie, let it out a bit."
Rebecca cut her off. "I don't care. I want to be able to enjoy myself at least a little bit at Father's ball."
Obediently, the black girl lowered her gaze and let out some of the ties, and Rebecca breathed an easier breath. Still shallow, but she didn't feel crushed now. After the corset was secure, Lottie helped her don the red and black ruffled dress, as well as pinning up her long hair with red ribbon. Lastly, a mask of black, with simple silver embroidery on one side and red cardinal feathers fanning out on the other side, the dark colors emphasizing her bright blue eyes. Once her outfit was complete, Mr. Breckenridge's daughter looked at herself in the mirror, with Lottie right behind her. "Oh miss, you look beautiful! You shall definitely find yourself some suitors tonight, in a get-up like that." Rebecca did suppose she was right, the dress and mask did suit her well, but she still would rather be in her riding outfit, out in the paddock instead of being forced to mingle with her father's friends.
"I guess I should stop dillydallying. Father did tell me there were a few of his friends he wanted me to meet. And he had been pushing me lately to find a man to marry. I just hope that one man, what was his name? The one with the great belly and red beard." She pushed one ringlet into a better spot behind the feathers, turning to Lottie after doing so.
"Uh, you mean Mr. Williamson, miss? He's the only man I can think of that has a red beard." The servant girl picked up Rebecca's black shawl, and the other girl took it, draping it over her elbows and behind her lower back.
"Yes! You have amazing memory, little Lottie. Now, how do I look?" Rebecca did a little spin, and the black girl clapped in glee, admiring her work as well as the brilliant tailor who fashioned the dress. "You look fit to be a princess, miss!"
And with that, the two of them left the bedroom, Lottie leaving Rebecca at the hall to run off to help in the kitchen. With a last wistful look in the direction her servant ran off to, Rebecca Breckenridge began winding her way down the stairs to where she could hear many voices echoing throughout her father's house, some laced with drink, while others echoed business matters.
When she was halfway down, she paused, hoping to find her father in the fray. Rebecca hated these parties. Strange men, some heavily drunk, always tried to get fancy with her, but her father had always come to the rescue. This time, she could not find him, and decided she would take the opportunity to go out into the garden. The young woman knew she would not be scolded for this, as many of the attendees used the gardens to escape the heat inside the building, and the summer nights were warm enough these days to allow a night stroll.
As she walked through the crowd, she said a few hellos to familiar faces, taking a glass of offered cider from a servant who knew her well. Rebecca never drank alcohol, even at gatherings such as these. She hated the drink, and vowed to never have a sip years ago when she met a drunk man who tried in vain to overtake her. The thought came to her now as she saw a couple, giggling and smelling of drink, vanish into the darker, more secretive section of the garden. Frowning, Rebecca stepped through the archway leading outside, taking what breath she could of the night air.