I walked out of the manor, the sun shining on my face this fine morning. The morning dew tinged my senses and the birds chirped a low song in my ear. I wrapped my slender manicured nails around the wooden railing of the front deck.
My shoes were strapped to my ankles and my socks went to the knee, but it was not seen through the thick layers of my dress.
I took a deep breath; the cool morning air expanded my lungs and sent a refreshing vibe through them. I picked up the hems of my dress so that dirt would not stain the delicate edges of the fine fabric. In the gazebo a black little animal played with a leaf that swayed in the wind.
I picked it up, the black fur on his belly intertwining with my fingers. He was Oliver’s cat; father bought it for him because he wanted a pet. Oliver named it Rudolph, but mostly we just called him Rudy. I placed the cat back on the ground to play with his leaf; the way the animals entertain themselves never ceased to amaze me.
I walked back into the manor, the chef’s making the breakfast and mother walking out to her garden to make sure that the gardeners were doing what they were supposed to.
I came into the foyer of our house to find Oliver sliding down the banister. Oliver was thirteen, he had so much life in him and his eyes sparkled in the morning light.
“Oliver, go find something useful to do, the way you are going down we are going to have to repaint the banister!” I smiled at him.
“And good morning to you Mabel.” He smiled a cheery grin and left the manor, walking in the direction of the stable.
I walked into the den where my father sat, his spectacles sitting on the table next to him as he read a book with shiny blue lettering on the front.
“Father why don’t you put your spectacles on, reading like that is going to ruin your eyes.” I commented in a sarcastic tone.
“Yes, but at the rate I’m going I lose my sight sooner or later.” He laughed.
“Good morning father.” I smiled.
“Good morning Mabel dearest.” He tipped his head towards me.
I started to walk out of the den when my father spoke softly, “Oh yes, Mabel,” He stood, “happy birthday.” He kissed my forehead, “And by the way…you should probably clean your room before your party…there was something large and colorful lying on your bed. What it was, I didn’t figure out.”
My heart filled with excitement; quickly my feet led me towards the checkered stairs and to the mahogany floor above. I walked up another flight of stairs before finding my room; slowly I pulled the curtains on my bed back towards me.
The peach curtain was strewn across, covering my bed. Behind it lay a gorgeous dress, so intricately designed that I didn’t dare to touch it at first. The top was covered in lace and pulled tight across the chest, it was green. The torso was covered in a silky fabric that too was tightly stretched the color was of an ivory tone, and below the waist was a simple, yet so beautiful design of an emerald green layer of thick and raw beauty. I touched the hems of the dress, the smooth fabric slid from my fingers.
“Do you like it?” Father asked as he stood in the threshold of my room.
“Oh father, I love it! Thank you so much!” I said and walked over to him, hugging him around the shoulders.
“You are very welcome Mabel,” he said as he pulled me away from him, “tonight; you will be the hit of your party and the coming attraction to this town.”
“Thank you father, don’t forget to invite Amelie either. I couldn’t have this even without my best friend.” I said.
“It shall be done. I will talk to Hank tonight.”
“Thank you father, for everything.” I smiled at him.
“You are welcome Mabel, I’ve been glad to have you as a daughter for the last seventeen years.” He kissed my forehead again and left my room.
I looked at the back of the dress; the intricate strings fell through my fingers. I heard a rock tap at the window of my room, I peered out and saw Oliver holding a rope and struggling to hold on. In his other hand he held a piece of paper.
I walked downstairs and outside the doors, the grass crunched under my feet.
Oliver stood there, his hands pulling on a blue rope, shushing what was behind the corner of the building.
“Dear Mabel,” he spoke, “I hope today that your seventeenth birthday is one of the best and for that,” suddenly he pulled the rope and attached to it was a wild black and white animal, “I got you one of the best.” The horse was beautiful, her hair was dark around her eyes and back, but her feet were white as was her muzzle.
“Seventeen years ago when mother came home with a baby girl in her arms I was angry, so much so that I didn’t speak for several days…but now that I am away from you I miss you so. Love you! Sincerely, Dirk and Clara Kingston.”
I smiled at the letter and could see that Oliver was under pressure holding onto the reins. I grabbed them from his hands and calmed her down by placing my hand on her nose. The soft hairs on her muzzle were like velvet and her breath warmed my hand. As I dragged her behind me I thought of a name for the young horse, I was not to interested in names like Catherine or Judith.
I brought her towards the pond and riverbed where I let her drink the sweet water from the pond.
“Mother!” I yelled into the garden arch.
“What Mabel?” she called back.
“Could you come out here, I have something to show you.”
“Fine.” She sighed.
She came out of her garden, her shoes clicking on the wooden bridge that ran across our stream, she stopped when she saw the horse.
“Oh wow! She really is beautiful.” Mother said high pitched tone.
“You seem surprised.” I said, cocking my head in confusion.
“Well…I kind of already knew about it.” She smiled at me, saying a ‘please don’t get angry’ behind it.
“You knew?” Well these few syllable sentences were getting me nowhere.
“We all knew.”
“Even Oliver?” And again.
“Yes, Oliver, your father, the gardeners, the cooks, everybody here knew but you dear.”
I paused, “I never knew you guys were so good at keeping secrets.” That’s more like it.
Mother smiled that kind of grin that would stretch across a face, “It took Oliver some bribing, but he kept it.”
“So, how did you figure out?” I asked.
“Dirk sent us his monthly letter a few weeks ago and said that he was going to be sending over a large present that was beautiful and had to be named.”
“That’s incredible!” I said.
Mother came to pet her nose, she said that the horse was exquisitely beautiful and that she had never seen one better looking.
“Why don’t you take her to the stables, don’t forget to tell father what you named her.”
Across the grass and up the cobblestoned ground I pulled her into our cleanly kept stable, the dark green wood labeled the stable as KINGSTON.
“I think I am going to call you…Lottie.” Lottie was the name of an ancestor in the Kingston family. I put her in one of the last available stalls in the stable and quietly close the door behind me.
A carriage pulled up just as I was walking towards the house, two gentlemen came out. One was an older man and the other was younger, about my age. They wore long jackets and nice cleanly kept clothing. Their shoes shone in the sunlight. The older gentleman smiled at me.
“Good morning.” He smiled.
“And a good morning to you too, sir.” I curtsied.
“You must be Mabel Kingston.” He stated.
“Why yes, I am. And you are?” I said, my face feeling red.
“This is Sir Peter McKenzie, and I am Niles McKenzie. Pleased to make your acquaintance.” He tipped his hat towards me.
“And you sir.” I smiled.
Peter held my hand and smiled at me, “You truly are beautiful, happy birthday miss Kingston.”
“Why thank you kind sir.” I tried to keep myself from giggling in amusement.
In and out of the house similar men came, their carriages rolling on our cobblestoned entrance. The gate of our front entrance squealed every time.