I have finally decided on a name for this story, although it is by no means a title. So, here is some more of what I posted last time. As usual, comments greatly appreciated!
Rose was indeed the epitome of charming. Her mother was a great believer of bringing up girls ‘properly and perfectly’ and at fifteen, Rose was as eloquent as any refined madam, and well versed in the etiquette of society. She had come into Evelyn’s life less as a ray of sunshine, and more as a gloomy winter’s day; Rose even at the age of six was a model daughter, and Evelyn was still having tantrums when her ayah sang the wrong lullaby to her at bedtime. Rose’s superior and far happier upbringing meant Evelyn was awfully jealous of the perfect princess who her pitaa insisted was ‘good for you’, and the girls’ relationship had gotten off to a stormy start, with Rose politely asking where the nearest bathroom was, and Evelyn sticking her tongue out at her and pointing in the direction of an open window.
But the years had certainly mellowed Evelyn and she now appreciated Rose’s company fully, relishing every moment she spent with her only friend, even if their visits were becoming less and less now that Rose was moving into society more and more.
Whilst the thought of entering into society terrified Evelyn, Rose seemed to dote off it and as she stepped out of her family’s car with a gentle nod to the chauffeur, it seemed to Evelyn that she would never catch up with her accomplished companion, who had once been her playmate and was now more of her advisor. As the bell from the grandfather clock in the library struck a quarter past twelve, Evelyn was standing by the library window, waiting for the right moment to step into the late summer Indian heat. As the important guests filtered through the foyer and drawing room and into the neatly manicured gardens behind, Evelyn saw her pitaa talk to Rose and gesture towards the house, indicating that he had told Rose where she was. Being the last people to arrive, Lord Willousby, Lady Willousby and Evelyn’s pitaa went through the house to the gardens, leaving Rose trailing a few meters behind, looking serene in her dress of rose-pink, styled in the latest fashions from Europe. The silver beads on the hem of her dress winked conspiringly as Rose moved delicately away from her parents and towards the staircase, in search of Evelyn.
Making her move with precision timing so she wouldn’t be seen by any adults, Evelyn got up from the chair by the window she had been sitting in and walked towards the door, book still in hand.
“Rose, how lovely to see you!” She said, making her friend jump just as she was about to step on the first stair.
“Why, Eve darling, you gave me quite a shock. I was just coming to find you; your father said that you were somewhere in the house, hiding, as he put it.” Rose’s tone of voice was somehow genteel and sophisticated whilst retaining the youthful air of her childhood years, an art which Evelyn had yet to master fully.
“I didn’t see you arrive,” Evelyn said, lying sweetly through her teeth – she had been watching Rose’s every move since she had spotted their car making its entrance a few minutes earlier.
“But my pitaa’s correct; I was hiding out in the library until you arrived. And here you are, looking as lovely as ever. Is that a new dress?” Evelyn said, trying to make small talk for as long as possible to prolong the minutes until she had to mingle with the guests.
“Yes, low waistlines and flat chests are quite the fashion in Europe. Your dress is quite a few years behind, I’m afraid, but with a few moderations here,” Rose pointed to the hem of Evelyn’s purple dress, “And here, you’ll be up to date.”
Rose looked Evelyn up and down and then grinned childishly and embraced her friend warmly.
“You’ve grown.” Rose remarked, as they walked up the stairs to Evelyn’s bedroom.
“No, Rose dear, the power of heels.” Evelyn said, lifting her leg to show rose her new shoes with an elevated heel.
They sat in Evelyn’s bedroom and talked for a while, and then, growing bored of sitting, Rose suggested a walk, avoiding guests if at all possible.
Evelyn commented that it would most likely be impossible, what with the number of people here for the governor’s speech.
“You would think that the King of England would be arriving, but no.” Evelyn frowned.
“Last night all of the tables were set out on the front lawn. I wonder why pitaa moved them.” She mused, nibbling at the fingernail of her thumb.
“Never mind that, we can go the back route behind the clipped hedges and that way no one will see us when we are at the fountains.” Rose said, taking her friend’s arm and linking it with her own pale one.
“How on earth do you manage to stay so pale in India?” Evelyn asked incredulously. “I simply can’t stop myself from getting brown.”
“Seek shade my dear. Whatever the weather, whatever the time of day. And always wear a shawl. Being pale is quite sought after in Europe, I’m told.” Rose said, gliding her hand smoothly down the banister.