Courting in the 19th century

Finally you get in touch with me, Amy? Really? What the heck?


Of course I'm stressed. You were supposed to let me know before now what happened at the 19th century masquerade ball, considering your plan was to sneak the maid, Charlotte, into it.

 Okay, I'll try to calm down. In the meantime let's hear what happened. Why not tell all of us what happened right from your own mouth. Spit it.

Uh, okay, I guess.
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.


Once we arrived at the hotel, the lady of the house and her husband had their own room and Charlotte and I shared another, right across the hall. So far, so good.

So, your plan was working up until this point, right?

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.

You mean, you gave her the money you stole from the family you live with.

Digging yourself a deeper and deeper hole, Amy.

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.

Remember the guy I told you about? You know, the one Charlotte and I sat across from in the stagecoach when the two of us went to the city last month to buy fabric for her to sew  the gowns?

Yes. but I'm almost afraid to say yes.


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. 

Please tell me you didn't tell him anything except the truth. That's she's a maid hired by the family you live with. She's not a member of the 19th century upper class, not even the middle class. She has no status or position. 

To be honest, I did talk to him and told him some ... stuff.

Because of class distinctions in Victorian times, a gentleman courting a young woman is expected to stay within his social standing. To deviate from his family's privileged class will not be tolerated. Acquaintance cards therefore, are commonly used by a gentleman as a means of introduction to an "appropriate" young woman. 
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.

You must fully realize, Amy, that this is a match that can't be made. Do not proceed any further than you already have.

And don't give me that look.