Well it was a warm mornin' as all Carolina mornins are. Guess the year was 'bout...1859. Yeah, that seems right. Elizabeth awoke with a yawn. She stretched crawlin out her bed. Looking to the window, she caught glimpses of slaves already workin in the field. She didn't realize they got up so early. It wasnt even sunrise yet! Well, someones gotta and it wasn't gon' be her. She staggered to the washcloset. After spongin herself annd towelin off, she went to her vanity and started brushin her auburn hair bak into a bun. Sometimes she thought about wearing her hair down, but Mama would have a fit if she were caught. She must always look like a proper lady. She began to dress startin with her chemise n corset. She wore hers much looser than she was permitted, but she believed to attract a mate you had to be breathing. Next were her petticoats. It was an especially warm day so elizabeth decided to only wear two, lest she faint from heat. She had trouble putting on her hoop so she called for Katherine. "Katherine! Come quick! I need you!"
Katherine hurried to the bedchambers. "You called for me, Miss Lizzie?" the black girl said straightenin her dress. "Yes. I can't seem to get this awful hoop to work. It's too stiff!"
Katherine gave her a scolding look as she helped her put the wire circular rack around her. "It's new. You have to give it time to loosen. It'll surely be fine in a day or so." Katherine gathered the lavender dress layin on the bed n began assisting elizabeth.
"Well I don't want it to loosen! I want it to be done away with. I wish I could be like you. You dont wear a hoop ever." Katherine looked down at her pale yellow cotton dress and sighed. "If I had the means, I would surely wear a hoop just as you. But I have not been blessed with such fortune."
Elizabeth perked up and turned around. "Well then, you may have mine! I hav no use for it! I'd much rather wear that bloomer dress that lady was speaking about at the market the other day." Katherine scoffed. "Now Miss Lizzie! You mean to say you fancy walkin 'round in your pantalettes with nothin coverin'? The misses would be shamed beyond belief!"
Elizabeth laughed. If Katherine weren't colored, Lizzie would swear she was brought up in the most prominent of American homes. Her posture was nothin' of a domestic servant. Her light brown eyes and rich chocolate hair complimented her honey brown tone making her look like a lady in every sense of the word. "Oh, I would neva say that in front of Mama! we'd have to pick her from the ground for sure. At least she'll be pleased at ma' dressing. Thank you, Katherine." she said lookin in the mirror. "It is only my service. Although, I should be scoldin' you considering you were supposed to be along hours ago!" Elizabeth gasped. Today was her first cooking lesson and Katherine was supposed to teach her. She had completely forgotten. "Oh my! I hav the worst mind, don't I? Is there still time to prepare breakfast?"
"I've already taken care of everything. But you should have helped. The Misses is gonna wanna know what you learned." "I'm so sorry, but I don't want to cook! Why should I learn? That's why I have you." "I will not always be around to service you. And I'm sure there are servants up North, but you'll want to inform them properly of their duties." Katherine said absentmindedly. "Why on earth would I be housed up North?" Elizabeth said puffin her sleeves. Katherines eyes grew wide as Elizabeth's eyes narrowed. Those words should not have been spoken and they both knew it. "Katherine, what are you saying? Why will I be up North?" Katherine smiled widely. "Oh, I'm just speaking out of imagination! It could be so, might not be, but could be. I will call on your sister then you can come down, I'll show you what I've done, and we can work on a tale to the misses, huh?" she said and hurried out the room before Elizabeth could question her any further.
Elizabeth stood there wondering. Why North? What was there? Was her father planning to finally move them North like he wanted? She knew much of his business was there, but her mother made it clear that she wanted to stay in North Carolina. So what could it be? There was no time to think of it at the moment but as soon as morning meal was finished, she would get the truth from Katherine. She hurried down the stairs before her mother could see her. Elizabeth ran past Eudora, another servant, who was settin the table. When she entered the kitchen, she came to a sliding stop which caused Katherine to scold her about running. "A lady should never scurry about like that. Your mother would have a fit if she saw you!" "Oh Katherine! We are of the same year. I pray you stop being my tutor for 5 minutes and have a little fun." "I would love to, but it seems you always need tutoring." "See that's the spirit! We should be allowed to tease each other in such ways." Elizabeth said with a laugh.
Katherine smiled. Elizabeth was always so wild and carefree just like a sprout. It was amusing. Katherine handed Elizabeth an apron. She looked at her puzzled. "We must at least make it seem as if you were helpin." "Oh! Good." Elizabeth took the apron and put it on. "So what have WE prepared?" Elizabeth takes a whiff of the air. Her mouth watered just at the smell of the delicious treats. Katherine hands her a tray of butter. "Eudora has already placed the corn bread salted pork and boiled eggs. What you will do now is put some butter on those peas while I get the hot bread and stewed carrots."
"Oh can't you do it? I don't want to fault and make a waste." "No, I cannot. I will not lie to the misses so you must do somethin." Elizabeth looked at the butter uncomfortably. She took a big scoop then put some back. This went on a few times 'til she thought she got it right. She put the butter in the pot proudly. "What do you think, Katherine?"
"Very good, Miss Lizzie! Now, you must stir it then put it in the dish. I'll be right back." Katherine left to put the rest of the meal on the table. "Of course." She quickly stirred in the melted butter and got the bowl. As she poured the peas in almost half escaped onto the floor. She gasped causing Katherine to rush in. When she saw the mess her mouth dropped open. Elizabeth quickly apologized. "Oh its all my fault. I feel horrid! I didn't mean to, it jus went the wrong course!" Katherine took a deep breath. "No harm done. You take the rest into the dining room and I'll clean this up." Elizabeth grabbed the bowl and left the kitchen. As Elizabeth brought the bowl to the table her mother entered. "Good morning, Mother." her mother studied her. "Well, at least you've done one acceptable thing with your dress. Very proper. Though, I have no doubt katherine helped. It is good that you have takn to your lessons in cooking." she said sitting at the table. Elizabeth joined her along wit her other two young siblings Matilda and Archibald.
After prayer they began to eat. While the children ate happily, Elizabeth sat nervously. "So what have you learned today?" her mother said as they took their food. Elizabeth looked at Katherine who stood to the side of the room. "Well, I've only just begun, but I did assist in preparation of all and I made the peas myself." Katherine nodded her head in approval. Her mother tasted the peas. "I must say you have done very well indeed. I have no doubt that with Katherine's tutoring you will be a belle in no time suitable for any gentleman."
"Yes, Mother." Elizabeth sometimes wished her mother would stop speakin of marriage, but being 16 she was comin of that age and there was no solution. Her mother interrupted her thoughts. "When we are finished, our meal you will watch the cleaning then join me in the parlor. I have important news to share." "Yes, Mother." After Elizabeth watched them clean, she met her mother in the parlor with tea. "Sit down, Elizabeth." Elizabeth sat in the chair slightly uncomfortably because of the hoop. "Yes, Mother?" "I will be accompanying your father on a trip for a fortnight. You will continue your lessons 'til I return. After, we shall have very important guests."
"Who are these guests?" Elizabeth asked curiously. "Your dear childhood friend Alexander Locklear and his father."
Elizabeth was overjoyed. "Alexander is coming? Oh ace-high! I have not seen him in ages."
"You are satisfied then?" her mother looked at her carefully. "Oh more than satisfied! I'm powerfully excited!"
"Excellent! I have no doubt he will make a fine husband for you!" Elizabeth's joy was cut short. "Husband?! As in marriage?"
"Of course. What else?"
"Mother, you cannot be thinking of him as my suitor."
"It has already been discussed n decided."
"Oh Mother please!"
"No more, Beth! A woman must marry to have a place in society and that is what you will do."