I wrote to Miss Liebert yesterday, imploring her to provide for me a kind heart and touch to rely upon whilst I felt I could not trust Mrs. Hegwood still. She immediately responded to the note, and made haste to the Hegwood Estate despite the threat of more rain and poor traveling conditions. I could not help it, my heart so exposed as it was and so tender to any sort of kindness, that I told her all. I told her everything from the first mention of the Doctor’s name in my home in England to the precise identification of my love for him discovered three days prior, and even all about the loathsome Mr. Vincent. Hours passed unnoticed by either party as I laid at her feet everything there was in the heart of Emily Waterman. The wonderful creature that she is, she only provided me a hand to hold and a gentle touch to brush away my tears as they fell in great numbers. She offered no suggestions, and no advice, only sympathies and a much desired gentle heart.
When finally the conversation turned to lighter topics, she suggested my attendance at a wonderful masquerade ball that was to be held that evening. Mrs. Hegwood, being always desirous for society, immediately agreed it best for my spirits. My heart still raw and yet to recover, I could not muster the energy nor vice to argue, and it was agreed upon by Miss Liebert and Mrs. Hegwood that I would go as an angel, as to them my face was nothing but sweetness and would hold no other disguise nearly so well. Mrs. Hegwood offered a new gown for the occasion, but I detained her and told her I would wear the same worn to the Congress of Vienna, and would accept nothing else. She of course could not understand my sentimental attachment to the frock, and I was not in the mood to discuss the matter. I removed the red trimmings to keep the proper illusion, and the ensemble was very well received by all present. The henhouse was raided by any of the servants who could be spared for any and all white feathers, and the quick and creative mind of Ms. Liebert produced a pair of serviceable angel wings to be worn with my snow white muslin ball gown. Pearls were draped through my hair and silk flowers, as well as three crisp and new Ostrich plumes. I confess I felt myself quite a magnificent sight as Mr. and Mrs. Hegwood, Abigail, and Ms. Liebert all fussed over me and crooned how lovely a picture I was.
Ms. Liebert parted our company shortly thereafter to prepare herself and informed me she would meet with me upon arriving at the destination of the ball. I went forth with great trepidation and feeling very exposed and alone, as Mrs. Hegwood was obliged to stay behind due to Mr. Hegwood feeling terribly under the weather as the change of seasons oft caused him troubles in the joints. Abigail accompanied me in the coach as far as the ball, but could go no further and must be brought back to the Hegwood Estate. I wandered aimlessly among the company present, knowing not a soul and seeing not a person I recognized even from the Congress of Vienna ball. My heart began to sink, and my mind was immediately brought back to that happy memory, though I could think of it with no joy. I fancied I could still smell the distinct scent of the Doctor’s wool coat upon my gown as I moved, and I was forced to find a corner in which to hide myself, as my breath was caught in my throat, and I could scarce see for the tears brimming in my eyes. I was interrupted by one of the servants and handed a note. It was from Miss Liebert, and to my horror she begged for my forgiveness as she was unable to attend due to her obligation to care for her ailing mother. Her apology sounded so earnest that I could not resent her for her duty as a loving daughter. I made amends to carry out the night on my own, and was resolved to enjoy myself at least in part. All present made such a lovely sight, that my breath was stolen quite away upon observing the dance floor. It was a magnificent and large ballroom, brightly lit with as many colorful fashions as one could possible imagine. There were trees, fairies, the night sky, spring and summer, and as many creative masques as I could think, though I was the soul angel in attendance, and too many times did I see groups look at me and whisper behind their fans. I could not be sure if I was receiving a compliment or if gossip of my solitary attendance was sprouting, and my confidence wavered.
I spent a considerable amount of time observing faces, and those I could not see, observing movements. I was exceedingly happy to discover that neither Mrs. Vincent nor her dreadful son Mr. Vincent were to be seen. With this knowledge, I felt my heart lighten, and I was able to enjoy some of my time, and even danced a few of my favorites. Whilst taking air between dancing, I glimpsed over the shoulder of the charming young lady I was speaking to, a face that looked so like Mr. B--- that my head began to swim and the poor lady before me was obliged to grasp my hand lest I faint, and I was afraid I very well may have if not for her. I regained my senses quickly enough upon the logical realization that it was quite impossible for Mr. B---- to be present in America, and even more so now that he was married to the Miss P---, now Mrs. B----. Despite the assurances I recounted to myself, the memories of my recent affliction came anew, and I excused myself from the conversation, and called for my coach. I plead unwell and was not delayed in my departure.
Once home, I was surprised to find Mrs. Hegwood still out of bed, waiting upon my safe arrival. She took my hand and led me into the front parlor where a warm fire was lit. She sat me upon a low foot stool, and placed herself in the large chair behind it, and delicately removed the pearls, flowers, and plumes from my curls, taking down my bound tresses, and gently ran a brush through them. She said not a word, but I knew by her actions and uncharacteristic silence she had read the Doctor’s letter while it lay out upon my writing desk. I could not constrain the tears that I had so wanted to weep upon her shoulder, and with the first shaking of my shoulders, she put down the brush, lifted me slightly, turned me about, and placed my weeping head upon her lap, soothing my brow and gentling me whilst I sobbed. I told her that I loved him, and how my heart has suffered such a grievous injury in his going away so soon after I arrived in America and our acquaintance bloomed into such a cherished friendship. She mothered my tears and my wretched sorrow for quite some time, until I had calmed enough to realize how tired my mind, body, and heart had become. Mrs. Hegwood lifted me from my low perch and assisted me to my bed, helping me to undress and to prepare my hair for the next day. She kissed my brow, and smoothed back a few stray curls, and told me that she knew just the thing to help my aching heart, and to fear not, she would make all right again.
I am unsure that it is wise for me to trust her entirely in this matter, and I fear I already know what, or who, her solution will be, but I will humor her for her kindness to me.