The Courtship after Jean-Antoine Watteau
Stop thinking about how tight the corset is and look interested. You don’t want Lord Du Pont to retract his hand in marriage. Oh, how rude of me to not introduce myself, I am Miss Burgundy, daughter of Lord Burgundy. However, my family calls me Liza. Sorry for my lack of manners, my eldest sister Margaret tied my dress so tight I can barely breath. If you can’t already tell, I am very new to this courtship thing. Right when I turned 16 last month my parents placed me on the marriage market. My mother keeps pestering me by saying, “A young lady like yourself should be snatched right in the knick of time.” To be quite honest, the last thing I want right now is a husband. Just for a little longer I’d like to live out my youth by riding horses into late hours of the night, gardening with my sisters and mother, or enjoying tea and crumpets at the manor. For goodness sakes! I am 16!!!! I shouldn’t have to be wearing this stupid hat and absurdly uncomfortable clothes. I feel like I am about to pass out any second either from heat exhaustion or lack of air. Lord Du Pont can’t possibly find myself the least bit attractive right now. The sweat stinging my eyes and my shortness of breath is anything but what a Lord would want in a wife!!
Well, regardless, my father is STILL worried about my dowry and presenting an attractive offer to all the suitors, as if I am some sheep being sold in the village! And my mother STILL constantly instructs me on how to be the perfect wife and mother. “You must throw a ball for every season: one for winter, spring, summer, and fall. Don’t forget to manage the servants well, Liza! Remember, Celia will be the best modiste for your children.”
But what my parents don’t know is that I am in love. But not with Lord Du Pont. I am in love with the Blacksmith’s son, Archie. You are probably wondering how a girl like me, daughter of Lord and Lady Burgundy, fell in love with the son of a simple blacksmith. Well, I’ll tell you. It began when I decided to accompany Servant Agatha to the market to find the season’s fresh picked apples. We were greeting all the vendors trying to find the best produce when all of a sudden I tripped over a loose cobblestone and everything in my basket went flying. I was fully prepared to abandon my basket and hurry home out of embarrassment, until the most charming man I’ve ever seen began to help me. His deep blue eyes met with mine as he grabbed my hand to balance my body as I stood up from the mess I created. He quickly gathered my things and wished me a good day. BUT this isn’t where it ends. Late hours into the night, Archie would sneak into the garden of the Burgundy Manor and call upon my name until I woke up and met him. For months we went on midnight strolls and talked. And I mean talk A LOT. We shared laughs about the dumb things our sibilings would do or funny moments in our childhood. Did you know we both broke an arm by falling off a horse? What are the odds?!! We also both despise the taste of cheese! Isn’t that crazy? Something like that is unheard of in France! We also talked about how our parents try to control our lives. Archie told me his father wants him to be a blacksmith but he aspires to be a writer. A writer! Isn’t that SOOO charming!!!
I told him everything about myself as well. I told him how I will soon be forced to marry some old, egotistical lord who only likes to talk about themselves and also how scared I am to get married. When I told Archie this, he grabbed my hand and he asked me to RUN AWAY with him! Ugh wouldn’t that be amazing. IMAGINE Archie and I riding off into the sunset far away. Far from Lord Du Pont---oh my gosh! Lord Du Pont! I’ve been ignoring him all this time. I’ll quickly smile at him so he knows i'm listening to his absurdly long story about his battle against Great Britain.
I am not sure how much longer I can continue doing this. All this pretending. Pretending I am in love with Lord Du Pont. Pretending I want to marry him. Pretending that I am NOT in love with Archie the blacksmith’s son. Something has got to change.