Footsteps echoed along the dampened brick path as people walked into a mansion belonging to a well-known family in the town. Everyone was donned in formal clothing, young ladies dressed in frilly dresses, others with lace, gentlemen of the like wore silk under shirts with their suits and custom designed top hats. It was as though everyone was from the Victorian era with the way they dressed - a place filled with fair ladies and dashing young men.
It was late afternoon and a party was being held to celebrate the 16th birthday of that family's only child. A sweet young girl whose loose blonde curls framed her doll-like face, and a flush of pink marked her cheeks as she greeted every guest shyly. Lifting her garments slightly off the ground, she bowed forward to a young man who was only a few years older than herself. Her blue eyes sparkled like sapphire gems as she glanced up to the young man before speaking.
“Good evening,” she said, her soft voice trembled slightly as she stood up straight once again.
The young man carried himself well with perfect posture. His emerald eyes glistened as he made eye contact with the star of the evening. He placed one arm behind his back and took off his top hat with the other as he returned the bow, his dark brown hair falling over his eyes as he leaned forward. “Thank you for inviting myself and my family this evening,” his voice was deep and each word he spoke was strong and confident, making the girl’s cheeks turn an even darker pink. Standing up straight, he handed his top hat over to the butler who stood beside the girl and the butler placed his top hat gently on the hat shelf that was off to the side of the entrance hall.
The young man continued on and walked into the ballroom where his older sisters had already occupied themselves in a traditional ballroom dance. After glancing around and spotting the familiar faces of his parents, he walked over to them and sat himself down, his back to the dancing.
“Why don’t you ask Rosalina to dance with you? It is her birthday after all,” his mother asked gently as she gazed at her son who was donned in a navy-blue suit, his white undershirt had a frilly collar which reached up to his slender neck. An outfit that he would not have chosen himself, had he any control over that decision.
He sighed, propping one arm up on the chair, his body half turned as he pretended to be interested in the dancing. “I care not for dancing, mother. If I were to dance with her, that would hint that she is my love interest, am I correct?”
His father moved uneasily in his seat and leaned forward to speak to him in a whisper. “Xander, you are at an age where you must marry. So far you have refused to ask for the hand of 3 girls! All of which are full of riches.”
Xander shifted his emerald eyes to his father, holding a strong gaze as he spoke. “There is more to wealth with the one you love and marry, father. And I for one would prefer to marry someone to my liking, rather than their social status.”
“Our industry is the best in the whole town, Xander, you have girls from every corner – even the neighbouring towns – clamouring at your feet and yet you still refuse to marry any of them! You will run out of options if you keep rejecting them,” his father insisted, raising his voice slightly. Xander’s mother gently gripped her husband’s arm and shook her head, indicating him to cease this discussion. She turned her gaze to her son.
“Xander, darling, your father does not mean to rush you, but you will soon be 20 and your father is getting older. We would like it if you can make the decision soon.”
A sigh parted his lips and Xander nodded, looking at his mother then his father. “As I have said countless times before, I will choose. But I would prefer to meet more of the girls.” With that he stood up from his seat, “I’m going for a walk,” he said as he left the ballroom.
“I wish he wasn’t so stubborn, is it really that difficult to choose a bride?” his father asked in frustration as he sat back properly in his seat, taking a sip of his red wine.
His wife smiled. “In due time he will, just wait. Afterall, his generation is only the second generation that gets to have a say in who they wish to marry. He is lucky the times are good at present. As for us, we were on the cusp of the transition and even just being able to marry you in those times was a miracle itself.”
Xander’s father closed his eyes briefly, recalling the trying times he and his wife had endured in order to be with one and other, rather than the arranged marriage his parents had planned for him. “Yes, dear,” he said quietly, a warm smile appearing on his face as he placed his hand over his wife’s dainty hands.