Miss Beaumont Meets Miss Crosby
(( This is a collaboration between myself and the player of Miss Beaumont. It takes place just a few days before the Valentine's Day Ball. ))
Georgiana Beaumont sat in her parlor, rather remarkably sober, fingering through the London paper that Mr Turner had allowed her to keep. Her space was as clutter'd as ever; a half-finished solitaire board pushed aside at the small gaming table at which she sat, the tray with the chocolate pot rather precariously perched on its corner, various other benign accoutrements of her daily life scattered about the room (though fortunately anything incriminating well out of sight, for once.)
Reginald Gordon is shown in promptly upon his arrival, in particularly fine dress, and Celia Crosby trails behind him. She is a waifish girl and not especially attractive - her thin hair more brassy than blonde, her eyes more grey than blue, and her complexion more pale than peachy. One who did not know her and was kindly inclined might assume she was simply unwell from mourning her mother, not yet a year departed, but in troth this was quite her usual appearance. Atop of all this, her manner could not be called pleasing. Even now, in spite of her cousin's warnings and admonitions, she enters drawing herself to her full height, assuming that she is here to bestow the favor of her acquaintance, not to pay any genuine compliment to their hostess.
Georgiana is truly delighted on receiving them, not only happy at the thought of Mr Gordon's visit but at the thought of making one of the first truly worthwhile acquaintances -and perhaps even her first /friendship/ - since she arrived in England. She wears a rose-colored morning gown with a fine white tucker, and typically a suite of pink topaz that would be rather notable at a supper party, let alone at home receiving morning calls. She curtsies to the pair, noting the stature -and rather unfortunate expression- of Miss Crosby with a little disappointment, but a pleasant expression. "Good morning, Mr Gordon. Miss Crosby -how wonderful to make your acquaintance."
Gordon offers a gallant bow, while Celia's contribution is simply a weak if well-intended smile. "Indeed," she says. As she continues, she appears to be choosing her words carefully. "I have missed the activity of Bath, though I suppose in mourning even that should have proven a disagreeable setting." Gordon flashes a glance at her out the corner of his eye, knowing that even in Bath and out of mourning Celia rarely agreed to socialize and even less frequently did she enjoy it.
Georgiana motions for the two to have a seat as she requests a fresh pot of chocolate from Mrs Roth and repairs to the settee. “Yes, I’ve always thought it was rather silly how one is expected to remove themselves from society just because someone has died. Is the dour wardrobe not enough? Why must we be deprived of any diversion?”
Celia actually quite approves of this response as she takes a seat, and also brightens somewhat at mention of chocolate rather than tea, having rather indulgent tastes. She perches herself on a settee, while Gordon strikes his usual relaxed, comfortable pose in an adjacent chair. He smirks a bit. "Certainly Miss Beaumont. In fact, one might argue that greater company and diversion should be of benefit to the bereaved. Why--" He pauses very briefly, wondering if he is oversharing, but presses on regardless. "My dear cousin here must wed, or at least become engaged, by her rapidly approaching birthday to secure her dowry, and yet she has been obliged to spend several months in no company whatsoever." Celia's thin lips purse tightly at this quite sore subject.
Georgiana’s brow raises, intrigued, and a little confused. “Oh? And who is it that has imposed these conditions, may I ask?”
"Our cousin Mrs. Creasey, of course," Gordon raises his own brow, almost amused. "She had been supporting Mrs. Crosby's household and paying off the woman's debts, and upon her death agreed to provide Miss Crosby with a dowry... given certain stipulations." He casts his eyes down and fingers the chain of his fob watch. His relocation to Tyrhampton had been among those conditions but he does not wish to impress that as an undesirable outcome lest it offend Georgiana.
As the chocolate arrives, she’s obviously even further intrigued by the gossip. “Well, it is sensible, I suppose, that Mrs Creasey would wish to prevent your suffering spinsterhood as she did. Her own marriage was nothing short of a marvel, being so aged. Having such a short time to secure a match, though...” She looks on Mr Gordon knowingly before turning her attention back to Miss Crosby, “...perhaps she is hoping you shan’t, after all.”
Celia sniffs, her lips still thinly pressed. "She is a bitter woman, too pleased with her own new position." Her thin hands are folded primly in her lap.
She hems as she pours the chocolate; first for Miss Crosby, and then for Mr Gordon. “I would suggest making a better match to spite her, but in this little village I cannot say such a thing is possible. There is rather a dearth of eligible gentlemen, I fear.” Georgiana smiles at Mr Gordon, taking care to brush her hand against his as she serves his cup -and /not/ bothering to be particularly discreet about it. “Indeed, it is to your detriment that one of the only is your cousin and guardian, Miss Crosby.”
Gordon arches a much pleased brow and makes no effort to hide his focused attention on Georgiana when their hands meet. Celia hardly notices this. She folds her arms with no small amount of petulance and complains heartily, "Indeed! To insist I must come of age and find a match here as opposed to Bath! It is-- It is a /conspicuously/!" She spits out, failing to remember properly the word 'conspiracy.'
Miss Beaumont lingers, her eyes on Mr Gordon’s for as long as she might, before she rights her posture and serves herself. She looks on Miss Crosby’s gesture with a skeptical eye, but finds she sympathizes with the girl. “Yes, I say that was my sentiment when Mr Beaumont bid me here from London.” Not that her success there had been particularly great; indeed, she had managed to alienate every peer who might have an eye to courting her, it seemed. “Perhaps it is a /conspiracy/. Surely it would be better for Mrs Creasey if she could wash her hands of you when you fail to find a husband.”
Celia's grey-blue eyes fly wide and her arms fall to her sides. "When?!" she exclaims. Gordon barely manages to keep himself from wincing at Celia's shrill voice, but he still appears a bit embarrassed.
Georgiana /does/ wince, stiffening. “‘pon rep, Miss Crosby. I was only agreeing with you.”
Miss Crosby is still visibly piqued. "The very notion is outrageous. Though there may be a... a dearth--" she pronounces this word cautiously, not having encountered it before, but unwilling to accept that she may be lesser than Miss Beaumont "--of worthy men, that means /I/ cannot find much difficulty in securing one." She lifts her chin, her eyes glinting steely pride in this approximation of logic.
Georgiana narrows her eyes, half-offended, half-confused at her twisted logic. "I suppose the gentlemen you consider 'worthy' of the title of 'husband' and the gentlemen whom I would consider worthy of the title of 'husband' are rather different." She sips her chocolate, flashing her eyes to Mr Gordon briefly.
Celia glares at her. "Well you do not have a deadline, do you. You might take as long as you wish in finding a situation." Gordon gives her a nervous glance, not eager for his mark to get ideas about having better prospects than sat before her now.
She stiffens, a bit stung by the ignorant untruth of the last statement. "Much like one ought not try for wit when one's mind is so very dull, you ought not presume to know the situations of others when you are so obviously ignorant of them, Miss Crosby."
Celia's eyes widen and she turns her head slowly toward Gordon, who clears his throat and sits up in his chair a bit. "I think perhaps my cousin meant that by way of compliment -- you appear to have the privilege of choice." He flashes a charming smile. "There are few women of your quality in the borough Miss Beaumont. 'Tis an enviable position." He hazards a nervous glance out the corner of his eye to Celia.
Georgiana appears unconvinced that it was meant as a compliment, and sniffs slightly. "Oh, of course. Thank you, Mr Gordon... Miss Crosby."
Celia takes a long sip of chocolate and manages to refrain from slurping. With only a moment's hesitation, Gordon shifts the subject slightly. "Do you plan to attend the Valentine's Day ball at the estate?"
Her manner is less jovial and a good deal less warm than it has otherwise been in his presence. "Indeed I do. And yourself, Mr Gordon? Shall you be in attendance?"
He makes little notice of her discomfort - surely it was about Celia and not him - and lets the corner of his mouth pull into a slight smile while he toys with the chain of his watch. "I expect so. I would not wish to spoil anything, but Tyrhampton has some rather unique traditions surrounding the occasion." His eyes twinkle playfully.
Georgiana remains aloof, though she raises a brow in genuine curiosity. "Oh? I shan't ask after them if they are 'surprises', but I did not think Tyrehampton had any traditions of note -surely I have seen none."
He maintains his relaxed pose with a hint of amusement. "You did not notice the kissing boughs hung various places in the village near Christmastide? Typically something servants partake in, I know, but many here have rather taken to it."
"I regret to admit I rather neglected society during Christmastide. I was aware of the kissing boughs, but thus was the extent of any interaction with them." The truth of the matter was, she'd found herself too deep in fits of the blue devils to attend any of the entertainments, each time sending rather last-minute excuses to Lady F for events which she had previously confirmed her attendance -apparently the shocking lack of bachelors is what had tempered the imposition placed on the lady and had allowed Georgiana to remain in her graces.
"What a shame. Perhaps next year."
Celia, for her part, rolls her eyes heartily. "I cannot imagine meeting a person in this village worth such attention."
Georgiana hems, apparently in response to both of these statements, and sips her chocolate.
Gordon gives an amused smile, looking from Celia to Georgiana. "My cousin remains spoiled by London Society, you see, despite not having resided in Town for some years."
She is still rather detached, but at least makes an attempt at conversation. "In that I find no quarrell with Miss Crosby. I found I much preferred Town as well. I cannot condemn the country entirely, though -if it is its only virtue, my riding has improved tremendously." She addresses the lady herself, her tone neutral. "Do you still have a great many friends there, miss? Perhaps you may prevail upon one of them to host you."
Celia casts her eyes down, though her overall expression remains rather imperious-looking. "My mother did not maintain many of our acquaintances upon quitting Town." Though it had been nearly five years since, at the time of their departure, the Crosbys were rather plagued by gossip of Miss Underwood (now Mrs. Creasey), a mere bookseller's daughter, being taken in as ward.
Knowing this tale well, Gordon interjects to help guard against any revival of the scandal: "And besides, Miss Crosby was quite young when the family repaired to the country. Not much opportunity for a young lady to form her own connections."
Georgiana hems once more. "Yes, I suppose so. When I arrived I was received by Mr Beaumont's man in London, Mr Charlock. I must admit I think I would have been better placed with another friend or acquaintance, but much like Mrs Crosby, I fear Mr Beaumont rather neglects his social correspondence."
"A difficult task under the strains of distance, I suppose," Gordon offers, a bit half-heartedly. After a moment, a question occurs to him. "Does Mr. Beaumont fail to read his correspondence, or does he simply take his time in responding?"
She furrows her brow, finding his question curious. "It depends on the letter and who has sent it, I suppose. The social correspondence was my task, I am unsure what his current arrangements are, but I cannot imagine he has suddenly become a great correspondent in that realm."
He nods thoughtfully. "I see. I believe for my aunt's part, both factors contributed to her neglect, though she often used the excuse of frequent change of address."
Georgiana appears rather /knowing/ at the mention of frequent changes of address. She casts a brief glance on Miss Crosby. "Yes, I suppose when one must move house frequently it must be rather difficult to upkeep one's social duties."
"It is," she responds, almost sounding /amiable/ though her words remain tinged with sullen petulance. "Though I was rather pleased to retreat to Bath so soon after leaving London for Tyrhampton."
"True," Gordon adds. "And let it not be forgotten that you did have nearly three years in Bath, even if some of that time was spent under my roof." His tone nearly sounds soothing.
Georgiana isn't /entirely/ certain what to make of the exchange and sips her tea.
"Have you spent time in Bath, Miss Beaumont?" Celia manages to force out.
"No, sadly not -I daresay I would have greatly preferred it." She likewise makes another attempt, "Did you enjoy your residence there, Miss Crosby?"
"As much as one can enjoy any place Miss Beaumont. Though I was there more for the benefit of the waters than of Society." Celia answers.
Georgiana raises a brow in question unasked, but defers to courtesy. "I'm sure it benefited you tremendously."
"Very much so." Gordon nods at this in agreement before standing. "Well, I suspect we have monopolized your morning quite enough. I wouldn't wish to keep other visitors from you." He glances at Celia who takes a moment to realize she should stand as well and dip a shallow curtsy.
A quip -in the form of a question asking who would visit /her/- was on the tip of her tongue, but as it would reflect more poorly on her person than on the little village in which all three were forced to reside, Georgiana, for once, held it. She stands as well, a pleased smile on her face as she curtsies to the pair. “Quite impossible, Mr Gordon. Good day.”
With one final bow, the pair take their leave, Gordon all but covering Celia's mouth with his hand lest she make their departure less than elegant. Her complaints could wait.