Mr Blythe hated the fact that Beth had bumped in on the ongoing conversation. Infact, he felt guilty about it. Although, he never really showed her much affection or support in the sight of his wife and daughter, so he felt whatever decision that would be arrived at, would leave him at a safe spot still.
He glared at her for a minute, taking in the innocent peculiarities of her looks, charmingly attractive.
Looking at Beth's sculpted figure which was twine-thin, his mind flashed to how fragile she was when he first brought her into his home, some eighteen years ago, three years after his own daughter, Louisa was born.
Even though everyone saw Louisa as the most beautiful of the girls, he had a different perspective towards beauty.
He loved that Beth's skin looked burnished no matter the weather—be it the winter season or leafy fall. The fact that her complexion had a tint of saffron to it made her beauty all the more distinguished to him. Then her green eyes that reminded him of rich vegetation. To him, they were garden-like. She was taller than Louisa with an upright stature. He concluded that only a suitable gentleman was befitting of her rich personality.. She was easily the smartest and most reasonable of his daughters, but she was not his daughter, so he let his wife interfere in Beth's matters much more than he did himself.
"Who said anything about going anywhere, Beth?" was Louisa's curt reply to her younger sister. 'I won't let her go, so she doesn't get in the way of me and Prince Aldrich,' she concluded within her.
"But father just mentioned something about taking me along, Isa." Beth's comment was met with scrutiny from both her mother and sister. Until, her father broke the awkward silence with his speech.
"Beth, this matter truly does not concern you. If it did, I would have had you sent for." Her father bit back his lips for having to lie to her even though he knew that she was smart enough to figure out the truth for herself.
"Yes, my dear it truly does not concern you," her mother began her speech, wearing a fake smile plastered suspiciously on her face. Beth was smart indeed to know what that meant. She had had too many one-on-one encounters with her mother to know what followed next.
"Now, my sweet girl, a matter was brought upon my hearing, and I was on my way to see for myself."
Immediately, her memory blinked twice reminding her of the sole purpose of bringing herself before her family.
'Oh no! Mother beat me to it already.'
After a minute of observing the errer's countenance, Mrs Blythe spoke again.
"What is your exemption speech? Why have you kept a beast under the roof that cloaks our heads to hide us all from shame?" her mother attacked her.
Mr Blythe had grown tired of the situation which was making him uncomfortable. He walked a while, picked up his long hat to hide his Vikings gold hair, a long coat, and made towards the door.
"I need to pay a brief visit to Lord Baron, my dear," he referred to his wife, then to Beth he turned to speak, "Listen to all your mother says and do good by it."
With her head slightly bowed in defeat, she muttered the words, "Yes, father."
"Give my love to the Barons my dear, especially the old Miss." said his wife. Thus, her husband stepped out the door. Once outside, he inhaled deeply, and murmured to himself, "She will be fine!" Then, he headed out to the Baron's on his feet.
After her husband left, Mrs Blythe turned to meet her eyes with Beth's.
"Do you see the old miss Baron? Everyone calls her an old maiden now because she was never wed due to her poor character. Proper maidens do not keep animals as pets, not to mention that nasty little creature you have put away in your room." Ending her speech, Mrs Blythe contorted her facial to reveal her disgust, in a manner that broke Beth's heart, and she could no longer keep it in.
"Mother, Mr Pickle is a good rabbit. I can take care of him and promise never to let him get in your way," then she turned to Louisa, "Isa, please I apologize for the scare. Forgive me."
"Nonsense, child. Do you think any gentleman would house you for a wife if you kept such beasts as companions?"
"Mother..." her voice broke, and she let out the raindrops because her eyelids could not keep them from falling any longer.
"No more books, and no more outdoor freedom for you, for the next weeks so that you don't misuse the liberty to get more creatures from the wild to house under our noses." The fake smile from before had long divorced her mother's face as her harsh verdicts landed on Beth's ears. As she ran off to her room, defeated and in a pool of her own tears, Louisa felt guilt-solid guilt. She was always mischievous, but she knew how much Beth loved her books and depriving her of it was going to break her so.
"Mother, we could have just taken the rabbit away without having to rid off her books."
"Do not feel pity for her. It is proper to scold her. She needs to be taught the right virtues. She is too rascal for a girl," was her mother's reply with a genuine smile towards her.
"Now, my gorgeous. Tell me everything you heard about prince Aldrich. My ears are curious indeed."
While they talked and made more plans about the trip to the forthcoming ceremony of the appointment of the new king of Barad-dûr, Beth cried sore in her room until her sobs were loud enough to not go unnoticed by Bessie who was on her way through the hallway, to inform the house about lunch.
"Milady," Bessie called out from the other side of the door leading to Beth's room, "Milady please permit me to come in."
On hearing the soothing voice of her favourite companion, Beth wiped her tears with the hem of her sleeves and tried to sit up on her bed.
"Do come in, dear Bessie."
"Thank you, milady," was Bessie's hurried reply as she let the wooden door creak open on her account.
Bessie walked in and immediately felt a transfer of Beth's sadness get heaped on her. Their connection was that strong, and she never could stand seeing her kind lady in distress.
She sat on the bed where her lady lay and made Beth to recline her pretty head on her thighs while she caressed her rich black hair which tumbled over her shoulders.
"Shush now, milady. Tell me what happened." said Bessie to Elizabeth.
"Mother and Isa have resolved to rid off Mr Pickle for no reason," she managed to speak after sniffing back the tears.
"That should not be a bother, milady. When you are out of here, if it's still important to you, you can get another rabbit and name him Mr Pickle the Second. Now, wouldn't that be nice?"
Beth's sobs intensified and Bessie pondered on what she may have said wrong.
"Mother has forbidden me from reading my books."
Bessie gaped for more than a minute, "She said that? Oh, my! What did father say?"
"He told me to listen to everything that mother would say and do good by it."
"Poor dear, that is sad indeed! We should work towards getting you an eligible suitor to get you away from here," was Bessie's assertion.
"I would never want to be tied to any man!" Beth declared.
"You will do no strange thing, milady. You are a beautiful woman and you would need to birth beautiful kids of your own someday. And perhaps give them the love that you never received yourself."
At Bessie's comment, Beth sat up and dried her tears completely.
"What if I do not know what love is?"
"Nonsense talk, milady. You know what love is."
The sound of girly giggles brought smile to the housekeeper's face. Elizabeth was ever so sweet and good-spirited. She wondered why anyone would want to hurt her lady, purposefully. Still, Bessie had her fears and reservations about how expressive her lady was of her emotions.
"I love the way you scold me like you were my mother, Bessie. I am thankful indeed that I have you," was Beth's declaration when she repented from giggling.
"Forgive me, milady, for being so. I raised you afterall. You were the daughter I never had. Still, I fear that I may have spoiled you too much."
"How so, Bessie?"
"You should master the act of keeping your emotions hidden from now on. The more you reveal, the more people would be willing to break you. Being vulnerable never helped nobody."
"You speak such truth, Bessie. I shall rise above this perilous times for your sake."
"Hahaha. Now, what book did you read that in?"
"For the first time ever, I do not know the answer to give."
They both laughed but immediately it died down, Elizabeth felt a bulb light brightly in her mind as an idea came to mind.
"Wow Bessie, did you by any chance hear of the new king's inauguration that is to take place in Barad-dûr?"
"Oh, don't tell me the news bearer has come by already. Mr Graylock involved me in the matter when the day was early. The news bearer from Barad-dûr has been by seven families already. It seems only families with a ripe maiden gets invited. Now, tell me, did the news bearer come by already?"
"So it seems, dear Bessie. Because, I stumbled on the rest of the family having a discussion about it awhile back."
Bessie seemed excited. She would want nothing more than to have her lady catch the eye of a noble man, moreso a man of royal blood. The news of Prince Aldrich has traveled far and wide, and their village was not exempted from the knowledge of him.
"Tell me all about it, milady."
"Hahaha but there is nothing to tell. They deliberated that I would not attend."
"And what is your take on it, milady?"
"I will take the trip, Bessie. It might become my escape from this place."
"Hm, but how do we go about it, milady?"
"We would see, Bessie. We would see."
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