Chapter 12- The Spinster Sister

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Eliza pulled her cloak closer as she walked home. The weather remained rather cold, the pavements glittering with ice against the winter sun. A low cloud hung over, a menacing grey that would turn into snow or rain.

She was avoiding Alex.

It sounded mean, but after his awkward confession, she felt as though she has no choice. If she stayed away, maybe he'd realise it was just a passing fancy. Eliza liked to think she wasn't unattractive, it was just a little crush she thought. She had a crush on him too, most girls did, he was very handsome. Alex would soon understand that he had his duties. He'd pick one of the girls provided for him.

Eliza couldn't be the one to cause problems. Alex would marry Alice (hopefully). Eliza would marry a nice young man. It wasn't as though she was short of suitors, she'd proven quite popular.

Soon, she promised herself, soon he'd realise. They'd be friends once again, no awkwardness.

She pushed open the gate, the creaking audible. Rose was in lessons and Eddie had gone tobogganing with some friends. Tobogganing was never seen as a lady like activity, considering the risk of a skirt flying open and revealing undergarments. Eliza always wondered what it was like, it did look like a lot of fun. The girls had sometimes stayed at Whitehead, when the lake froze over. One could look a little more dignified doing that.

"Afternoon Dawson," Eliza greeted the butler, who rushed to take her cloak off, "It's rather chilly outside."

"Indeed ma'am. Would you like some hot cocoa?"

"That would be wonderful, thank you."

Eliza warmed her hands by the fire as she waited for it to be made. The crackling of the hearth was most pleasing, as was the warmth that she felt against her palms.

"Your cocoa ma'am."

"Thank you Dawson, I shall get out of your hair."

Sipping it between her warmed fingers, Eliza headed out into the hallway. She then looked up to see Captain Albert White, one of the young men in the season, coming out another door. He was not handsome in the way Alex was, but his soft blonde hair and blue eyes made him look very cute. White was also rather tall, towering over everybody he came across. Few could match his height.

"Captain White," she greeted, holding out a hand on instinct, "To what do we owe the pleasure?"

"My Lady," Captain White bent down very far to kiss her hand, "I came to call upon your sister."

"Hannah?"

Eddie had mentioned that Captain White had been asking about Hannah, but nobody gave it much thought. Hannah was, well, Hannah.

"Yes, I've always rather admired her."

"Well that is wonderful."

"Truth is, I don't think she likes me very much," Captain White's voice dropped.

"Oh why would that be?"

"Well, she wasn't impolite, but she was rather, erm, stiff. She seemed to be tolerating me as opposed to being entertained. I feel as though I have been a terrible bore or conversationalist, wasting her time like that. I didn't think it was wise to stay much longer lest I bore her even more."

"Captain, I would not take it personally, Hannah is not the social type."

"Your brother warned me that Lady Hannah was not interested in marriage. I really should have listened."

"Well it was rather grand of you to make that decision to approach her, I appreciate that you have been kind to my sister."

"You're very sweet, my lady. I know that it may be unbecoming to say, but I have always thought that you were most upstanding. Perhaps I chose to talk to the wrong lady."

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