Low voices coming from the parlor captured my attention. I walked through the frosty, dark foyer and into the dimly lit front room where I quickly froze, not from the cold but by the presence of yet another fopdoodle. This one at least had the good sense to keep his coat on—either from the frigid temperature or the knowledge he wouldn’t be here for long.
“Ah, there you are, Arabella. I’d like you to meet someone,” Mother announced as she rose from a side chair. She shook out her voluminous gown—no longer the black of mourning. Instead, she sported a monstrous dress in a dusty rose taffeta with a wide neckline and enormous, puffy lace sleeves. A pelerine, a sheer white cape-collar with whitework embroidery, blanketed her thin shoulders. Apparently, Mother had someone courting her affections. If not, she drained the last of our resources just to outfit herself. Selfish.
Removing my bonnet as I walked, I took a good look at the latest in a string of suitors. Mother must have been blinded by the sun when she chose that one. He was overdue for a decent meal with his gangly limbs, too-long neck, and absent chin. Dull acorn-brown eyes anchored his gaunt, pockmarked face while the pièce de résistance was the matted reddish hair covering his diminutive head. His brain couldn’t have been larger than a pea. However did he think?
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