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Miss Karavayeva's Second Visit to the Elmsworths

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Grizella Campbell-Coffin Anya selects a lovely olive green gown with subtle gold detail before summoning Mischa and collecting a basket of small baked treats and a sprig of flowers from a maid. She takes a deep breath before crossing the street and knocking on the door.
The door is opened by Thorpe. If he is surprised he betrays none of it. He grants Miss Karavayeva entry, and goes to inform his mistress in the parlor.

Anya waits in the entryway, her nerves unfaked. She has no guarantee this will work at all. She has a plan, but it all depends on whether Mrs. Elmsworth believes her.

Grizella raises a brow, looking to Eliza, before confirming with Thorpe that Mrs Bolton is not in her company, and nodding to allow her entry.

Eliza had been sitting next to Grizella, her fingers throbbing with pain from all the times she had pricked her fingers from the needlepoint she'd been working on. Her work was clumsy, and there was little doubt she would need to pull out the string and start again---if not toss it out completely. She was relieved at the announcement of a visitor, and she was quick to put away the busy work. Though....she was incredibly nervous at the idea of Miss. Karavayeva at the door.

Anya comes in, her pace measured, but her breathing a little quick. She gives both ladies a small smile and a curtsy.

Grizella nods in acknowledgement, looking on the girl curiously. "Miss Karavayeva?"

"I . . . I hope it is alright that I come," She says shyly, her accent quite apparent. "Mrs. Bolton does not seem to mind if I am not bothering her."

She rose to her feet, and offered the other young lady a curtsy, cursing her own choice of gown. Elliza herself wore a pale green dress--though she swore to herself she would never again wear such a color, after seeing how Miss. Karavayeva looked in it. She settled back in her seat, too nervous to speak up on the other young lady's behalf after the day before.

Grizella takes her seat as well, making no motion for Miss Karavayeva to do the same. "If it is that I shall throw you out of my home you are concerned over, I have no intention of doing so unless you repeat Mrs Bolton's truly egregious and mad behavior."

Anya flinches. "," She says softly. "No, I wanted to . To apologize."

She glances at Grizella, the harshness of her sister causing her to tremble slightly. How was Miss. Karayeva still standing? Eliza would surely have collapsed at this point.

Grizella's tone remains as even and level as it nearly always is, polite and inquiring, although not friendly. "Tell me, is it common behavior in Russia? To severely and cruelly insult one's hostess-with no provocation, I might note-and expect continued hospitality? I had not heard so, but Mrs Bolton seems to do it very easily for one whom it is not common practice.

"No." Anya's eyes flash slightly and she stiffens visibly, but her tone remains as polite as she can make it. "Not in Russia. Not anywhere, I think."

She shifts in her chair, marveling at the other girl's courage. Eliza would never have been able to enter Mrs. Bolton's lair, especially if this was what she might be under the reception of. Could she offer the girl a seat? Or some tea?

Grizella notes the flashing of the girl's eyes with a raised brow. "Do I offend you with my questions, Miss? It was only yesterday you accused me of 'overstepping' when I warned you of Mrs Bolton's character after she had just verbally assaulted me in your presence. Perhaps it is /apologies/ that are different in Russia-you claim you wish to, but you have not yet."

Anya takes a deep breath, looking a little thrown, and then pensive for a moment. "Forgive me. I-I am sensitive? I think is the word. I took you to insult Russia with your question. I love my home. But I am sorry for yesterday. I was um . . . embarrassed. Upset. I didn't think."

She looks on the girl intently, although her voice remains level and calm. "It was my intention to insult neither Russia nor yourself, and if I did so I apologize genuinely. In any case I should not ask you to apologize for Mrs Bolton's behavior. She has verbally assaulted me on nearly our every meeting, insulted my person, my attire, my station, and, /most/ /appallingly/ and /outrageously/, my /family/-both that of my birth and of my marriage, as you witnessed yesterday-nearly continuously. She has also harmed me bodily on one occasion, attempted on a second, and that she has not been wholly cast out from society is offensive. I pity all those-including, and perhaps /especially/, yourself-who must suffer her presence. It is certainly understandable you were embarrassed of her behavior, and if you are sincere and truthful in your apology, I forgive you."

Eliza listens, and tries to keep her expression poised. "Perhaps...we might try, the three of us? Starting over? You are not Mrs. Bolton, Miss. Karavayeva, and I don't, I-" she stumbled a bit as she spared a glance at her sister in law, "I wouldn't want to treat you as if you were."

Grizella looks at Eliza, surprised. "No, she is /not/-however, one cannot simply /forget/ what has happened. How is one to learn anything if all meetings unpleasant are forgotten?"

"Not forgotten, no. But...I feel as though personal opinions have been expressed. Miss. Karavayeva has wished a desire to apologize. You have made it clear your issues with Mrs. Bolton are with Mrs. Bolton, not with Miss. Karavayeva....And Miss. Karavayeva has now apologized for her own actions, and you have offered forgiveness." She swallowed, her throat tight and her blush blotchy on her face, "To continue to express all the ways that Mrs. Bolton has caused harm...What more is to be gained that hasn't already?" It was starting to feel...cruel, watching the young Russian Miss be forced to stand as she listened unendingly to all her chaperone's failures, when her desire had been to come and make amends. "So, rather than continue on as we have been...we might find more comfort in...moving forward?" She'd overstepped. Her flush darkened, and she looked down at her hands.

Grizella raises a brow at Eliza. "Miss Karavayeva has not previously heard details of Mrs Bolton's offenses, unless Mrs Bolton herself brags of them. Miss Karavayeva has been placed with Mrs Bolton as her chaperone. Do you not think she should be aware of the woman's character? To be warned and prepared, as others whom Mrs Bolton inflicts herself upon are not? That is surely not very kind."

But Grizella had already disclosed some of Mrs. Bolton's conduct only the day before! Was what she wished to say. Did Miss Karavayeva truly have to stand in an acquaintances home and listen to every gruesome detail!? Her tongue felt thick in her mouth, "Of course, I wasn't thinking." She couldn't speak out against her own chaperone. She could hardly do it in private, let alone in mixed company.

Grizella smiles gently and reaches out to squeeze Eliza's hand tenderly before returning her gaze to Miss Karavayeva.

Anya watches the interaction quietly but with alert curiosity. "I meant to apologize for my own behavior, Madam, not my cousin's. I know you must have poor opinion of our family. I admit my aim in coming here was three. Aside from apologies, I am something lonely and hoped you might allow me and Miss Elmsworth to know each other better. I hoped to a little redeem my family perhaps. We are not all so rude as my cousin." She lifts her chin proudly.

Grizella notes the gesture with displeasure. Not all so rude, but all so /proud/. "No, you are not. Mrs Sokolov is a pleasant lady, even if both her daughter and niece have shamed her. Lady Halliwell, however... whatever good opinion I might have had of the lady has been erased by not only her daughter's behavior, but her own. She rather amusingly wrote my aunt, Mrs Isaac Coffin, demanding I apologize-very shortly before her daughter again shamed herself. I must presume whatever defect is in the family is from Lord and Lady Halliwell alone-I assure you, my perception of the whole family is not so terrible." She quirks a brow again. "You may sit if you wish."

Both Miss. Karavayeva and Grizella's words had her blushing. Miss. Karavayeva's due to her pleasure and surprise at being someone the rather pretty lady wished to have an acquaintance with--and Grizella for continuing to speak on the misconduct of others. Still, she had spoken up more than enough for one day. She continued staring down at her hands, finding comfort in her own shyness.

Anya flushes and looks severely unhappy at the mention of Tatiana, but seas herself with a nod. "Thank you."

Grizella rings for tea, continuing to observe their 'guest'.

"Ah, I brought this if you like," Anya says shyly, indicating the basket. "Our cook makes especially good almond biscuits. Not poison, I promise." She smiles a little, hoping the joke is apparent through her accent.

She raises a brow at this, but accepts them with a polite smile. "Thank you, Miss Karavayeva."

Anya meets her eyes warily.

"Almond cookies sound lovely." Eliza says as the tea arrives. She felt far more at ease now that the difficult topics of conversation were apparently at an end.

Anya gives the other girl a grateful, somewhat relieved smile.

She offered Miss. Karavayeva a smile in return, this one far more timid.

Grizella attempts friendly politeness. "May I inquire where in the Russian Empire you are from, Miss?"

"St. Petersburg, Madam. And you? Where in England are you from?"(edited)

"Devonshire. Portledge, on Bideford bay-it's in the southwest if you are unfamiliar." She's relieved when the tea arrives. "What is your preference, Miss Karavayeva?"

"Plain, please. Thank you."

Mrs Elmsworth presents the cup with a smile before serving Eliza.

Eliza took the offered cup with a light smile, before taking a sip. "And how are you finding England, Miss. Karavayeva?" What had brought her here?

"Tyrehampton is pleasant," She smiles politely. "Do you like it?"

"Oh yes, the weather is very fine."

"Indeed," Anya smiles. "Warmer. Here, than at home."

Grizella is happy to allow the two girls to converse-while she observes, of course.

"I see. And is it terribly cold in St. Petersburg? That is one of Russia's larger cities, yes?"

"Right on both counts, Miss Elmsworth. Though I do not think so terrible."

"I see. Then, what was it that brought you to England? It's a rather far journey." Though not impossible. Quite a few people visited Russia on their grand tour.

"The Baroness, my great aunt. She sent me."

"Does she have a great interest in England?"

"N-no. I do not believe so," Anya looks a little bewildered. "She simply thought I would serve the family best here."

"I see." And then Eliza realized with horror she was out of polite conversation. They'd already spoken of the weather...

Anya cuts in gracefully. "Have you visited the estate yet, Miss Elmsworth? I have had told that it is very pretty, but not visited yet." She smiles.

She felt immensely grateful for the other girls tact. "Not just yet--but I am rather curious to see the garden, as well as the library. I've heard both are quite impressive."

Anya smiles warmly, relieved. "Could you recommend me books? I read, but mostly French of course.

"I would be more than happy to do so Miss---are there any subjects of particular interest to you?"

"Oh, anything. I have always enjoyed study," She exaggerates pleasantly. "History perhaps?"

"History?" She perked up a bit. "I've only just finished reading quite the interesting book on England's original expansion into India. I would be happy to lend it to you, if you've the desire."

Anya beams, pleasantly surprised. "That would be lovely!"

She sipped her tea, wondering if perhaps this was the start of a friendship after all. "Perhaps later in the week you wouldn't mind walking with me to the estate as well? As neither of us have seen it before---I imagine it would be quite the treat." She takes a moment to look at Grizella for confirmation--her chaperone and sister-in-law was the one in control of her schedule after all.

Grizella smiles politely. "I would be happy to accompany you both, of course."

"I will have to ask Mrs. Bolton," Anya says, lowering her eyes as her mind races. "But . . . To be honest I think she hardly hears what I say most of the time . . . So long as I am not behaving improperly or under her feet."

She continues smiling politely, and attempts to quickly end the ploy for pity. "Then I would again advise you to write both your great-aunt and Mrs Sokolov, Miss Karavayeva."

Eliza sips her tea, trying to maintain a politely neutral expression on her face.

Not working. Try honesty. "I am forbidden contact with the Sokolovs. The Baroness sent me here with hope having someone for looking after would temper Mrs. Bolton."

Grizella furrows her brow, concerned and confused. "Forbidden from contact...? I... I am aware Mrs Sokolov is not particularly fond of Mrs Bolton-does that dynamic extend to your great-aunt as well? For if Mrs Bolton has forbidden it, surely that is all the more reason for you to write her with all haste. I would be happy to convey the note myself. An unmarried lady should not be put in such an awful position-it is much too much responsibility, particularly when Mrs Bolton may very well be your ruination."

"Mrs. Bolton told me to have nothing to do with them because of the elopement. The Baroness believes this how I may be most useful to the family. I doubt highly that Mrs. Sokolov would go against the Baroness."

Grizella sighs. "It is a shame that the welfare and reputation of a woman in disgrace is placed far above your own, Miss Karavayeva, do you not agree?"

Anya purses her lips slightly. She does not like this woman much, but she is beginning to respect her. She realizes however at some point she will have to choose. Her cousin, or Mrs Elmsworth. "I was raised to be of use to my family, Mrs. Elmsworth. It is not for me to question my elders' judgement."

Eliza paused. What should she say? What COULD she say?

Grizella raises a brow again. "That is admirable, and a value with which I certainly agree-however, sacrificing oneself for something that is very likely hopeless and unsalvageable-that is, Mrs Bolton's reputation-cannot be of any benefit to the family, and /certainly/ not to you. I would still encourage you to write your great-aunt, and be truthful when you tell her what you have found. Mrs Bolton behaves /abominably/, /even/ when visiting the homes of those she has previously wronged; those with whom she would do better to curry favor and attempt to redeem herself. I am likewise sure that whatever horrors and abuses have been inflicted upon you in /that/ household would be enough to fill a Gothic novel-perhaps with your witness the Baroness would be persuaded to send you elsewhere."

Anya's eyes widen a little and she looks pensive. "I think you misunderstand, Mrs. Elmsworth. I was not lying when I said I am mostly left to me."

It takes a moment for Grizella to to understand, but when she does nothing in her manner changes. "Then /that/ is what you ought to report. If you see little of her, and what you do see is her abhorrent behavior of yesterday-well, you are hardly affecting anything, are you?"

Anya shrugs a little bit. "I was permitted to come here, was I not?" She asks quietly.

Grizella appears unconvinced. "I know not what that has to do with anything. If she did not care for your movements when you arrived, there has been no improvement in the time since."

"Perhaps it will take patience . . . But I will do as you advise. And I thank you for the advice." She inclines her head.

She smiles, although she still does not trust the girl in the /least/. "In that case I should be doubly glad to accompany yourself and dear Miss Elmsworth on your visit to the estate."

Anya smiles shyly. "I will do my best to obtain permission." She gives Eliza a warm, hopeful smile.

She smiles back, if a bit more timidly.

Anya's heart leaps with genuine happiness. The part about being lonely wasn't a lie either. She rises. "I ought to return to Mrs. Bolton's residence. Thank you. I . . . I look forward to such an outing if it can be arranged."

Mrs Elmsworth rises. "Good afternoon, Miss Karavayeva."

She quickly rose as well, "Yes, please send us a note as soon as possible if such an outing will be permitted."

"Of course." Anya smiles warmly at her, curtsies again, and departs.

Grizella, of course, turns to Eliza quickly, sighing, her expression and tone sympathetic. "Eliza..."

She watches the other girl depart, fidgeting nervously as Grizella turns her attentions on to her. "Yes?"
She considers her words carefully-sort of. "I know it is difficult, to come to a new place where you have so few friends, but... well, Miss Karavayeva is rather far from the ideal."

She'd been worried about a conversation like this. "Should I not have encouraged her?"

She shakes her head. "That isn't what I mean, really... only that... you need not... settle for /her/ friendliness and amiability. There... well, other, /better/ companions you will meet, and would be honored to be your friend."

She flushed, and wondered where those companions might be, but kept her tongue still. "Of...of course, Grizella.....Does this mean I cannot visit the estate with Miss. Karavayeva?"

"No, you may... and if you wish to be friendly with the girl, you may-for now, until any of their family do something horribly scandalous..." Grizella grows very serious. "...but Eliza... you must promise me..."

She was glad to hear she could still be friends with the other girl, but her relief was put on pause as Grizella speaks of promises, "I will behave myself, Grizella."

Grizella shakes her head, still intent and serious. "That is not the promise I wish to solicit from you. I have no doubt that you shall behave as you ought, regardless of Miss Karavayeva's influence. I am more concerned over what you shall say."

She flushed her usual unattractive blotchy red. She had spoken up too much. "Of course, I will mind my tongue better."

She shakes her head once more, withholding a sigh. "No, Eliza. You did not speak out of turn today. My meaning is that if you wish to be Miss Karavayeva's friend, she must be a friend that you neither trust nor confide in."

"Oh." She paused, and seemed to look for the proper words to use. "Of course. I understand."

Grizella raises a brow, looking on her intently. "Do you? It is of the /utmost/ importance that you never confide in her-nothing. Not about Mr and Mrs Byrd, not about Roland-not even about /yourself/.”

She gave a quick nod. She had no dark secrets of her own, not really--but she could understand the importance of not discussing her family. "I won't Grizella, I /promise/."

She smiles, reaching for her hand. "Thank you, Eliza. I shouldn't have to ask that of you, but circumstances..."

She offered her sister in law's hand a gentle squeeze. "No, I understand the necessity of such things. To give Miss. Karavayeva my confidences may very well mean giving Mrs. Bolton ammunition."

Grizella nods. "Precisely, my dear, and I need not elaborate on the character of Mrs Bolton."

Eliza gave a timid nod back, before rising to her feet. "I think I might play a bit, if that is alright."

"Of course, dear."
Posted 5 months ago
Grizella Campbell-Coffin ((This was a collaboration between the players of Grizella Elmsworth, Eliza Elmsworth, and Anya Karavayeva.))
Posted 5 months ago

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