This is a continuation of the historically inaccurate Felicity series. To review part 1 click here.
Felicity skipped and hopped down the street from Miss Manderly’s house to her own. She was so excited to have received an invitation to the Governor’s winter ball she could barely keep the anticipation inside. She took one more half hop and then stopped abruptly. The invitation had also offered a chance for one girl to travel to New York, but only if she could prove she was a gentle lady of high society. Felicity stood very straight, head aligned with her shoulders, and walked with small steps like a young lady is supposed to. No more jumping and running for me, she thought with a slight sigh, I must become a proper lady now. In fact, I don’t even think I’ll tell Mother and Father about the invitation. I’ll just see if they notice a difference in my deportment.
Felicity went home and never uttered one complaint about any of the chores she had to do. She tried to do everything with grace and beauty. She practiced her embroidery, watched over baby Polly, and helped Mother make dinner and set the table. Ben and Father came in, and then when everyone had finished their dinner, Felicity went to pick up the plates but Mother stopped her.
“Just a moment, dear. I’d like everyone to know, that I believe a different oldest daughter has walked into our home from tutoring. She looks like our Lissie, but she acts like a grown lady. That’s certainly not the Lissie I know.”
“Oh, Mother! I’m so excited!!” Felicity bounced on her toes.
Mother smiled, “Never mind, it is the Lissie I know. What is your news, dear?”
“Mother, I received an invitation from Lord Dunmore today!”
“Another one?” Ben asked remembering the one from two years ago.
“Yes! He has invited all tutored girls to a winter’s ball at the palace, and whichever girl can prove she is a gentle lady will get to travel to New York with he and his wife!”
“That man is a coward and a fool,” Ben accused, “I wouldn’t go to one of his balls if he begged me to. We are patriots, Felicity. How can you even consider going?”
Felicity was shocked. She had forgotten Ben had had the same sentiments two years ago.
“Felicity, I believe Ben has a point,” her father agreed, “It’s different from two years ago. If you go, especially to New York, than we are showing support to a loyalist. We are at war now, and we must commit to what we believe.”
Felicity was crestfallen and confused, “But Father, it’s just for girls. It’s about growing up and becoming a woman. You still allow me to have loyalist friends like Elizabeth. Even though it’s being run by a loyalist, it has nothing to do with the war.”
“Run by a loyalist!” Ben nearly shouted, “That loyalist happens to be the man who stole our gunpowder! That loyalist happens to be the coward who ran away! That loyalist-”
“Thank you Ben, that is enough,” Father turned to Felicity,
“Dear, I am very sorry and I know you were excited about this event but this time, I feel I cannot permit you attend.”
Tears filled Felicity’s eyes.
She turned toward her mother to ask to be excused but her mother already knew what she wanted and just nodded her head.
Felicity ran upstairs and threw herself on her bed. She couldn’t stop the tears from trickling down her cheeks. She picked up her doll and hugged it.
Of course she felt terribly disappointed that she couldn’t go to the ball but it was so much worse than that. Just last winter, she and Elizabeth hadn’t even been able to speak to each other because they and their families had been so divided. Elizabeth was a loyalist and Felicity was a Patriot. They had almost lost their friendship because of this breach and they had only just gotten it back.
Now, what was she going to tell Elizabeth? Would Elizabeth stop speaking to her again? She would have to tell Miss Manderly too. It was all so terrible.
Just then, her mother came in her room, “Felicity, may I come in?”
Felicity nodded and sat up.
“I’m so sorry this had to happen at such a time in our lives. I would have loved to see you go to the ball and transform yourself into a young lady of society.”
“Do you think you could try and persuade father to change his mind?” Felicity asked, pleased that Mother seemed more or less on her side.
“I can try, but I highly doubt that will happen. This war and everything that’s happening is not only going to change our lives but our entire country. We must be dedicated to what we believe in, and not suddenly change our minds when things become inconvenient.”
“You’re right, of course,” Felicity sighed.
“There are other ways to become a gentle woman. And although not all of them are about attending balls, I still want you to go to Miss Manderly’s and work hard to be one.”
“I will,” Felicity said, though I can’t imagine how I’m going to do it, she thought.
Felicity walked slowly down Gloucester street toward home, her head down. Lessons at Miss Manderly’s had been difficult. When she announced the news that she was not participating in the Governor’s events Elizabeth looked so disappointed and sad Felicity could barely look at her for the rest of lessons. Miss Manderly told her gently that even though she was not actually going to the ball, she was going to still have to work as though she was, which was difficult because all she was feeling right now was empty dismay. She was certainly not motivated to work harder. The worst, however, was Annabelle, when she heard Felicity’s news a huge smile broke on her face and she stared right into Felicity’s eyes and said, “One down, one to go.” That didn’t even make sense because she had to compete with all the other girls in Williamsburg who were being tutored, it wasn’t just Elizabeth. But Felicity couldn’t wipe that smirk from her mind.
Felicity was so deep in thought, with her head down, she almost stepped on something lying in the street. She accidentally kicked a boot. It was a man!! Felicity gasped. The man gave a groan. At first she wondered if he was drunk, but then she saw the way one of his legs was twisted in an odd angle.
“Sir! Sir, are you all right?”
“My leg….”he wheezed, “Oh, Lord, my leg.”
“My father is just down the block, I’ll go and get help.”
Felicity flew down the street and burst into her father’s shop.
“Father! Come quick! There’s a-” But Felicity didn’t get to finish.
“How dare you disobey me, Felicity!” Her father looked furious, “I told you not to come to the shop after lessons and go straight home to look after Nan and Polly because your mother had to go out!”
“I know Father, but I had to come tell you- there’s a man badly injured lying in the street. He’s desperate for help! Please help him.”
Mr. Merriman looked at Ben, “Grab the thickest fabric you can find, we’ll need to use it as a stretcher. We’ll bring him to my house.”
Mr. Merriman and Ben dashed out of the shop, carrying a strong blanket. Felicity tried to keep up.
Mr. Merriman bent down to the man, “Sir, we are here to help you. We need to get you onto this stretcher to carry you to our house.”
Very carefully, Ben and Mr. Merriman slid the blanket under the man and carried him to Felicity’s house.
Felicity’s heart hurt with every groan the man uttered. When they brought the man to their house, they discovered Mrs. Merriman had already gone into town so Felicity cared for him. They put him in the spare bed. He didn’t wake up but he started sweating and shivering at the same time.
Mr. Merriman looked grave, “I have not pulled down his breeches to look at the wound, but from what I see now, I fear he has an infection. Care for him as much as you can dear Lissie. If he does not get better we will call a doctor. I am sorry to have scolded you before at the store. You did the right thing.”
Felicity soaked his sweaty forehead and sang to him. She had always felt comforted when Mother sang to her when she was sick. She went to the apothecary and came back with some medicine to help fight the infection.
That night when Mother had come home, she pulled Felicity aside.
“Felicity, it shall be your duty to care for the sick and wounded man. I will try to do my part, but what with managing the household and caring for baby Polly…”
“Don’t worry, Mother, I’ll do it.”
“Thank you, Lissie. Even though you may not prove yourself a gentle woman at the Governor’s ball, you will always be my young lady.”
Felicity gave a small smile and went upstairs.
That night, the man’s fever broke, and he slept peacefully through the morning. When Felicity went to check on him that afternoon she was surprised to discover he was awake.
“Good day, sir, I am Felicity. You’re awake. How do you feel?” she asked.
“I have seen better days, I can tell you that. But without your kind hands and gentle touch, I fear I may not have come around the way I have. You are quite the gentle woman.”
Hearing those words yet again, and from a complete stranger greatly affected her, and she could not keep the tears from pouring from her eyes.
“My dear, young lady, I am so sorry to have caused you distress,” the man said, “Please, was it something I said?”
“Yes, … no,” And then Felicity poured out the whole story to him.
When she was done, he lay there quietly thinking. Then he turned his head and spoke, “Your father is a loyal patriot, but you will go to the governor’s ball, and somehow, you must find a way to go to New York as if your very life depends on it!” He said this with such passion, Felicity felt oddly confused, “But sir, why should you take such in interest in a girl’s affairs? A girl whom you don’t even know?”
“Please, excuse me, I have been entirely rude. I have not introduced myself. My name is Caleb Brewster. I do not normally tell this part about myself, but as you need to know; I am a spy of General George Washington.”
Felicity’s eyes couldn’t get any bigger with surprise.
“I am on a mission for him to deliver a secret message to New York when I was almost caught by a British officer. I ran for my life, but, as you can see, not without getting hurt. The healing will take too long for me to get the message to New York myself, so I would like to request your help.”
“This letter must get in the hands of a man named Alexander Hamilton who lives in New York. You must get this to him before the month of April.”
Felicity took the sealed letter in her hands. She didn’t know what George Washington’s seal looked like, but this one was definitely ornate enough to be his. She made a motion to hand it back to Caleb but he refused.
“Keep it. It is much more likely to stay safe in a young girl’s hands, rather than a rough man like me who may be searched at any time. I would rather have you keep it on your person rather than putting it in a safe place though.”
“I’m not wearing any pockets right now, but I’ll get you some food and drink and get some pockets to wear. I promise I will keep the letter safe.”
After Felicity brought him some food she asked the question she was most worried about, “You want me to go the ball, but how are you going to persuade my father to let me go?”
“I will probably have to tell him the truth. I am aware of the sacrifices your family has gone through to show how loyal you are for our country’s independence which is why I feel can trust you.”
Mr. Brewster did indeed persuade Mr. Merriman that Felicity should go to the ball.
Felicity worked exceedingly hard both at Miss Manderly’s and at home. Elizabeth was gleeful to find Felicity would get to go after all (Annabelle just made a sour face).
“What made your father change his mind?” she asked.
“Mother talked to him. And he agreed that allowing one girl to attend a ball wouldn’t change the tide of the war, but he’d rather not have it advertised that I’m going.”
“I won’t tell anyone,” Elizabeth said, “Oh, I’m so happy!”
The days seem to fly by in a flurry of memorizing dance steps, holding perfect posture, and helping Mother as much as she could.
At last the day of the winter’s ball came. The Merriman’s hired help, Rose, came to help Felicity get into her things since Mrs. Merriman was looking after Nan, who had a cold.
Felicity was giddy with excitement.
“Stand still, girl! I need to tighten your stays,” Rose said.
“Oh, Rosie, I can’t believe it! I’m really going to the ball!” When Rose was done, Felicity twirled around making her pockets fly. Something swirled to the floor. Felicity went to pick it up, but Rose got there first.
“What in heaven is this? What are you carrying a fancy letter like this around?”
Felicity was so surprised she could barely come up with a reply, “It… was a gift. Ben was testing one of the new letter seals at the store and he thought it was so pretty he gave it to me.”
“But you’re not going to bring it to the ball,” Rose said.
“Oh, but it’s so elegant. It’s a seal one of the gentry would send and it makes me feel so elegant to have one even though it isn’t real,” was Felicity’s poor excuse. She waited to see if Rose bought it.
“Well, with you and your crazy dreams I guess it would be something you’d do. Let’s make you even more elegant and put that gown on.”
Felicity breathed a sigh of relief, If you only knew that letter was real, she thought.
“My, you look fine. Just like the year before last. You’re lucky you still have that dress, as your mother don’t have time to sew more clothes like that anymore. You behave yourself at that ball, you hear?”
“Of course, Rosie, you know I”ll be the perfect young lady.”
Rose nodded with a smile and walked out.
“I’m going. I’m really going!” Felicity whispered to her doll.
She gave her a kiss and raced out of the room where Ben was waiting to escort her.
Ben did not know Felicity’s secret mission and he couldn’t fathom why her father had suddenly changed his mind and not only allowed Felicity to go to the ball, but ordered him to escort her too! He was absolutely furious.
“Where’s the carriage?” Felicity asked.
“You don’t deserve a carriage. We’re walking.”
Ben walked very fast trying hard to get this over with as fast as possible. Felicity saw Elizabeth from across the street.
“Felicity! I can’t believe today’s the day!”
“She was complaining about a stomach ache, but I think it’s just nerves. I was waiting here for Annabelle and the carriage but I guess since you’re here, I might as well come with you.”
“I know what she means by nerves,” Felicity said, “I woke up in the middle of the night last night and I thought I had forgotten all my dance steps. I walked through the minuet at three in the morning before I went back to sleep!”
“Come on, slow pokes, let’s get going,” Ben grumped.
As they continued down Gloucester street and then turned toward the palace green, a number of other girls and their escorts were riding up to the entrance.
Elizabeth turned toward Felicity, “Why are we walking anyway? Wouldn’t it be so much more elegant to ride up in a carriage like we did before?”
“Ben doesn’t believe I should go, so he’s punishing me by making me walk.”
“And now I’m leaving,” Ben said as soon as they had arrived at the door, “I hope you at least behave yourselves.”
Felicity and Elizabeth entered the palace and made their way to the ballroom. They were instantly led to the Governor and his lady to complete introductions.
“Felicity Merriman, my Lord and Lady,” Felicity announced herself with a curtsy.
“And Elizabeth Cole, my Lord and Lady,” Elizabeth said.
“Good evening girls,” said Lady Charlotte, “We are thrilled you are here. You have arrived just in time for the second dance.”
Felicity was paired up with a sweet looking girl named Mary Grace. It was a slower dance and the steps were easy enough to allow conversation.
“Your dress is so beautiful,” Felicity admired, “the lace is exquisite.”
“Thank you, yours is lovely too. I can’t believe I’m wearing this. It is an heirloom from my grandmother who came from France.”
“How lovely, than your dress is just as special as mine! My mother stayed up very late many nights, even when she was sick to make this dress for me,” said Felicity.
“It’s homemade!” Mary Grace admired, “the stitching is so perfect.”
Meanwhile, Elizabeth was making new friends too.
“Good evening, my name is Emma.”
“I am Elizabeth.”
Before they could say any more, the third dance began.
“Oh, no, it’s a Gavotte!” Emma looked panicked, “I don’t know if I can remember the last steps. They’re so complicated. Maybe I should pass on this one.”
“No, don’t,” Elizabeth said, “I’ll help you.”
Just then Annabelle poked her nose in, “And why would you bother to help her?” she sneered, “You do want to win, don’t you?”
“Of course I do,” Elizabeth held her head high, “But that doesn’t mean I should stop being kind.”
Emma looked at Elizabeth gratefully as they started the dance.
“Step, 2, 3, 4. Turn, 2, 3, 4,” Elizabeth muttered to Emma out of the corner of her mouth.
Felicity and Mary Grace decided to pass on the 4th dance and enjoy the banquet.
“Everything looks too beautiful to touch,” Felicity admired.
“Yes,” Mary Grace agreed, “But I’m far to hungry to just look at it.” She piled her plate high with fruit and chocolate cake.
“Girls,” one of the dancers called out, “the sixth dance is just beginning and we need more dancers.”
Felicity and Mary Grace looked longingly at their almost finished plates, but left them to join the group.
Elizabeth had joined Felicity in the dance when something caught her eye. It was Annabelle sitting all by herself. She realized she had barely seen Annabelle dance at all tonight.
“I’m not sure what Annabelle’s up to, but she has hardly danced at all and she’s sitting over there all by herself.”
“Good,” Felicity said, “Maybe she has finally given up and won’t smirk at me and make fun of you anymore. She sees how much better everyone else is.”
Elizabeth couldn’t help but agree with Felicity, although she still felt oddly concerned over Annabelle. This was not how she’d normally act.
When the sixth dance was over Elizabeth decided to go over to her.
“Annabelle, are you well? I’ve only seen you do two dances,” Elizabeth said.
“I feel awful,” Annabelle hung her head, “I can’t do this. My stomach is so queasy and cramping.”
“Just rest here, I’ll go see if I can find someone here who can help. But we have to stay at least until the governor announces who will travel to New York. Then we’ll go straight home.”
“Well, it won’t be me. That’s for sure,” Annabelle hunched down in her chair with a pained look. Elizabeth could see sweat on her forehead and the sides of her face. Elizabeth was sweaty herself, but that was from the dancing.
She stepped out of the ballroom and looked down the hallway to see a servant carrying a tray of sweets.
“Sir, my sister is not feeling very well right now. Might you have some herbs to calm the stomach?” Elizabeth asked.
“I doubt if any herbs would work, but I’ll make some chamomile tea, and that should help. Stay here, and I’ll be back with it.”
Elizabeth only had to wait five minutes before he was back and she hurried the tea over to Annabelle, “Here’s some tea. If you need to lie down, I saw a window seat at the end of the hallway.”
“Thank you, but I don’t feel I should get up just yet,” Annabelle answered.
Finally, after the 12th dance, the Lord and Lady Dunmore stood up.
Lady Charlotte spoke, “We have been so very impressed with all of you lovely young girls, that we have decided to allow more then one girl to come with us to New York. We will announce the first one tonight. Becoming a lady not only means dancing perfectly, having a talent in sewing and embroidery, managing a household, and carrying a good deportment. Being a lady also has to do with having a good character. I believe no other girl has proved this than Elizabeth Worthington Cole. She has already gone out of her way to help two young ladies here in distress and do as much as she could for them. Because of this, Elizabeth Cole,” Lady Charlotte looked right at her, “you will be the first young lady chosen to come to New York.”
Elizabeth turned to her best friend, “I can’t believe this just happened.”
“Elizabeth, you are the greatest friend to not only me, but everyone you meet,” Felicity said, meaning every word, “You deserved this so much and I’m more than happy for you.”
“But did you hear? More than one girl will get to go to New York. Oh, Lissie, if you would get to go with me, my dreams would really come true!”
“Well, I certainly hope I can and I will try even harder to make it! But I want to celebrate you tonight! Come dance with me some more!”
–So ends part 2 of this Felicity series.
Could you tell what the doll catastrophe was? Yes, Jacky, who plays Caleb in this skit truly did break her leg! I was carrying her down the stairs when her loose leg just decided to depart from her body!
I have learned from other bloggers that when something bad happens to your doll (like if your doll gets completely soaking wet) enjoy her first before she gets fixed (let her have a good swim in the water!). I am completely doing that with Jacky. She will also be featured in a modern story that will be coming up very soon.
I also want to apologize for the historical inaccuracies. For example, this story supposedly takes place about a year after Changes for Felicity (1776) and the Revolutionary war had started, but George Washington probably had never even heard of Alexander Hamilton at that time and Lord Dunmore had already run away (June 1775), but hey, it makes a good story! Just take it all with a grain of salt.