Miera woke up determined that today was the day she would change. Or die trying.
She swung her legs over the side of her bed and slipped on her cushy slippers, tip-toeing towards the large door that separated her sleeping compartment with the hallway to the women's suites. Yes, she had woken before anyone else! The absence of servants soft footprints in the hallway sent her heart racing with excitement with thoughts of a day to herself, free of embroidery, lady lessons, and tutors.
She eased her door open slowly. To her left, the women's rooms stretched unfathomably forward, all the way down the carpeted hall towards the Queens room, and the men's quarters beyond that. Not a soul was stirring--was the sun even up yet? Miera softly shut her door and drew back one of the two heavy curtains that framed her arched window. Barely dawn. So she had overslept, a bit.
She checked her calender again. Yes, today was the day. The day Riol would leave. Miera quickly buried her jealously--there wasn't time to mope over Riol's impeding adventures and, of course, male privilege that allowed him to leave the castle and be free of marriage, corsets, and etiquette tutors while she was stuck simpering and bowing her way down the drafty castle corridors. Why, did women need to know five ways to hold a fork, or twenty ways to curtsy anyway? Not to mention that insufferable corset.
Throwing it in the fire and pretending to have "lost" it only got servants beaten or killed for thievery and another garment delivered the next morning.
|Source: The Royal Hallway|
She remembered when she'd found the hiding place. It had been in the first days of her move from the nursery at 11 years of age to the women's hall when her "bleeding" had started. On that first day, with servants everywhere, she was suddenly given two more manners tutors, a "diet instructor to encourage a ladylike figure" and had her precious Fousté (Fou-tee) book confiscated for not being suitable reading material for a lady of her station. The beginning few weeks were a blur of instructions, reprimands, and tears. But then she'd found the cubby-hole one night when, in a fit of rage, she'd attempted destroyed her bed. There had been a letter in it.
Dear Whomever--the letter read, its pretty female script neatly filling the space between the margins; Who are you? I think often about who will live here after I, and fill these sheets with different dreams. So I thought I would write you a letter, since I'm sure we will never meet. Tomorrow I turn fourteen and thus will vacant these single rooms to move to a parlor room with personal maid, and began my courtship. I'll leave you what's left of my privacy, that I'm sure my husband will not allow me to keep it when I turn sixteen and marry. If you must know I am sorry to vacant this little room, but maybe you will be happier in it then I.
The letter went on. Miera skipped to the end.
I'll leave you with this, dear friend--there is a servants stair right outside, and perhaps you can use it to frequent the library. You are lucky to be situated just at the end of the hall to allow for such easy access. Also, there is a set of maid's clothes that I found here when I first entered. I'll leave them for you. I'm sure that if I tried to take them, that I would most severely reprimanded and all adventure lost.
You'll find that the usual undergarment is missing! How scandalous, I wonder how she lost it? I often daydream of the girl and her secret lover that she must have visited so cleverly disguised. I wonder if he still thinks of her? Do any men still think of us, moments after we are gone, or are they happy to be rid of our pretty laughter and perfumed persons?
I'm sure I am about to find out. Oh, bother, the house maid is knocking at the door with the ladies call to tea. Maybe I'll write you again later. Love, Lizzette P.S. of course that's not my real name, you ninny, do you think I'm daft?
Of course, she'd fixed the bed before anyone had noticed-- she didn't want a servant or the hall maid to find her secret. There were more letters from "Lizette" as well as two letters from someone who called herself "Poppy" whose handwriting was so bad Miera had to squint to read it. The dress was still there, a mothy thing in the corner, but Miera had never even considered wearing it. But yesterday when she was told she couldn't attend her brother's Choosing, she had made the decision to finally use it.
Miera pulled it out and quickly put it on over her night-robe.
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