Chapter 2- The Prince's Ball

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"Tighter?"

"Please."

Maisie pulled the laces tighter, the corset tightening into Eliza's skin. She hid her grimace- Whitehead had taught their ladies how to take corsets with dignity and grace, as they were essential items. It wasn't in her nature to complain anyway, so she quietly gripped her hands around the bedpost.

These things had to be done.

Her parents had bought her a new gown for the ball, seeing as it was her first real step into society, as well as the prince's 21st Birthday. Eliza had only needed to take one look to fall in love with the baby blue and white gown. She loved feeling the large skirt sway around her as she moved around and how the lace appeared on the bodice.

Blue had always been her favourite colour.

As she stepped into it, she felt a new wave of joy.

Eliza smiled in front of the mirror, admiring it once again as Maisie adjusted it. Every time she swished her skirts, the light from the candle made it look as though the hem was sparkling.

Her hair was piled atop her head in an up-do. A little more sparkle was added by small sapphire earrings and matching pendant- nothing too fancy as to not look low class, but nice enough to show her standing.

Demure, elegant and pretty- that was the aim.

"Do you think that I look ok?"

"You look so lovely My Lady."

"That's very kind, thank you."

"I wish I could go to a ball one day, but Mrs. Danforth says I shouldn't say such things as a maid and that I'm being silly."

"I shall sneak you some cake if I can smuggle it back," Eliza winked.

"You're too generous, m'lady. Are you ready to go?"

"Thank you Maisie, you are dismissed for the night."

Maisie dipped her head and exited, leaving Eliza to look at herself in the mirror once more.

Her first ball as an eligible deb.

She had to make a good impression in order to protect the family name. Her mother constantly told her how excellent she would be at court and she could not bear to let her down. With Eddie not yet interested in proposing to any women (and being able to hold off as a man) and Hannah seemingly planning to never be wed, it was down to Eliza.

All she needed was a nice, young man with money and a title. Eliza was happy to settle with someone she was friendly with, but deep down wished that she would fall in love.

Eliza had to be realistic about her goals, however, and she knew that tonight was about finding a suitable husband. She would set the tone for what the rest of the family could do- if she landed a Duke or someone very wealthy, then that could help Eddie and Rose's prospects.

They deserved good things and Eliza wasn't about to ruin it for them.

Taking a deep breath, she exited her room and walked down to the parlour.

"Elizabeth!" Lady Marianne gasped, clasping her hands to her mouth, "You look absolutely beautiful my darling, you shall be the talk of the ball. I dare say you may attract a few nice men into a dance."

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