First Impressions

August 26, 1896
Penelope Sumter

I must say it was the oddest experience sitting next to Wilbur as he drove the automobile up the street to Carrington Manor. There were plenty of stares, jealous and otherwise, but what made the experience odd was how different everything appeared. It had only been a few weeks since I was last here and yet everything seemed so different, perhaps nothing was and it was merely I who have changed.

Parked in front of Carrington Manor, Wilbur helped me out and then began piling my luggage on the sidewalk. It was almost embarrassing, how much more I had been able to bring without the limitation of train travel. There was a dark haired girl who looked to be a new servant of the house, she in particular looked at me with what I assume to be disdain. If I were a mean sort I would have reported her to Mrs. Carrington straight away, but I have always felt it best to wait until an affront is more definable than a simple look.

“Is there something you need?” I asked the staring girl.

“No.” She answered simply.

“Then go about your business and fetch a boy to carry my things inside.”

“I’ll do about my business as I please and you can fetch your own assistance.”

“How rude! You can be sure I will report this to Mrs. Carrington.”

“As you like.” She waved her hand in a dismissing motion and walked away.

I boiled with embarrassment and anger. I would have followed the girl directly but it was then that Lizzie appeared. Probably for the best, because it just does not do to infuriate the staff upon arrival. I learned that lesson in Paris when I was a little girl.

Lizzie was awestruck by the automobile and she made no effort to conceal it. Wilbur appeared awestruck himself but he was not looking at the automobile. I sighed, Wilbur never has had very good taste in women.

“Can you believe the new help they have, Lizzie?” I said after a moment.

“You mean her?” Lizzie said and nodded her head at the retreating girl.

“Yes, completely rude and out of order. She seems to not know her place.”

“She’s a new student.”

“You must be mistaken. Since when do they allow paupers in here?”

“I wish I was mistaken. Stay away from her. She’s trouble, even Mrs. Carrington sees that. She had a talk with her straight away yesterday after we arrived.”

“It seems not to have had any effect on her.”

“From what I saw, Mrs. Carrington was more effected than she was.”

“No doubt the girl is used to whipping.” I said.

“Probably. Her name is Sarah Waters, she is from somewhere out west. I bet she doesn’t even know what a bath is.” Lizzie said.

We both giggled at the thought.

Wilbur cleared his throat in a less than subtle manner to get my attention.

“Aren’t you going to introduce us?” He said.

“Oh yes, Mr. Wilbur Sumter may I introduce, Miss Elizabeth Bassett, a roommate and friend from last year.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Miss Bassett.” Wilbur said.

He stepped to her side and grasped her hand gently bringing it to his lips. Lizzie blushed, as was expected. I shook my head. Clearly, Wilbur is in more need of guidance in selecting a mate than I. It is not that Lizzie is bad people, quite the contrary, she is good people, but she is bad money. That is her family has less of it each year rather than more. Definitely not a good match for my family.

“I see you are taken with the automobile.” Wilbur said.

“I’m sorry if I’m staring. I’ve just never seen one so close.” She replied.

“Or at all.” I muttered under my breath.

Wilbur shot me a warning look and still managed to be charming to Lizzie in the way only a Southern man can do.

“Would you like to go for a ride about town? It would be my pleasure.” Wilbur said.

Lizzie looked like her eyes would pop out of her head from shear excitement.

“I would be honored, Mr. Sumter.” She said more mutely than her expression.

“Call me Will, all my friends do. Are you coming Penny?” Wilbur asked.

“No, I have had enough riding for a good long time.” I replied.

It was not exactly true, I enjoyed nearly every minute of riding in the machine but the thought of watching my brother and Lizzie continue on with their little game was more than enough to make me sick.

“Suit yourself. I will be back in two hours to collect the empty cases.” He said.

“Yes, yes, I know.”

I headed inside to find some help for my things as they sped away back down the street toward Providence. They did both look happy, but I know Lizzie must still have eyes for Jonathon. Wilbur will find out soon enough she was in love with his machine and not him.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Melanie, it seems snobs are snobs whatever continent they're on.
Warm hugs,