Well, at first everything went as planned. Charlotte rode with me, the lady of the house and the lady's husband in the stagecoach that was going to the city.
To make sure the lady of the house didn't suspect I was going to sneak Charlotte into the ball, I'd shoved her gown into the biggest piece of luggage I could find in the house along with mine. The coachman complained when he had to lift it because it was so heavy. Charlotte only carried a small travel case so no one would suspect anything.
So, the lady of the house and her husband sat together across from me and Charlotte, but I could tell Charlotte was nervous because she kept squirming and fidgeting.
I whispered in her ear that she had every right to go to the masquerade ball, even if she was a maid.
Yeah, right. Charlotte went to help the lady of the house get ready while I got myself dressed.
And then me and the lady of the house and her husband were driven by horse and carriage to the ball.
Charlotte was expected to stay in the hotel room until we returned, of course, but I gave her some money so she could pay for a carriage ride to get herself to the ball soon after we left.
Whatever. But she never showed. She was too frightened the lady of the house would find out that she lied. She said she knew she'd get fired if the truth came out, so she stayed in the hotel room all evening.
But the funny thing is, when the ball was finally over and I went back to our hotel room, Charlotte was all dressed up in her gown. She even had her gloves on. But she'd never even left the room.
She looked beautiful.
After midnight when everyone removed their masks and we were leaving the ballroom, there he suddenly was, right beside me on the staircase. And he recognized me. And he asked about Charlotte - like he was totally into her.
To be honest, I did talk to him and told him some ... stuff.
It is in the 19th century when romantic love is stressed as a prelude to marriage. It is also common in 1868, when you currently live, for a lady of social standing to invite a gentleman to her home to hear her play the piano (after years of learning) or join in parlour games, for instance.
Refraining from any kind of sex is considered the norm, especially in the upper classes. Those in the lower classes, which unfortunately Charlotte is part of, are thought to be unrefined and crass in the manners of the physical aspect of romance and dating, and therefore are not suitable for marriage.
Courtship in the 19th century, although involving love, is to be decided upon with a mindset of increasing wealth and social standing, perhaps a step up regarding a man's career or continued security for an upperclass woman and her future children.
And don't give me that look.