Hello everyone and welcome back to LLP. This week we finally meet Becky properly, after like 4 or 5 weeks of trying.
Our knowledge is back up, so we can visit Ermengarde this weekend if we want, which would be her last event this act-- but we'll talk more about that at the end of the update. For now, Jessie!
You're looking very pretty today, Sara.
(Do I look any different than usual? Maybe that's just Jessie's way of saying hello.)
Of course, it's easy for you to be pretty, because you have so many nice things, and you have your own maid to help dress and style you, and...
... I wanted to ask you a favour.
Boy, this conversation sure did become uncomfortable fast.
You're the only girl I know here with your very own personal lady's maid. Lavvie says her parents say she's too young.
Don't tell her I told you that! It doesn't mean that she's jealous of you!
She's definitely jealous.
So, as it is, I was wondering if I could... borrow her.
So that she could show me some new things to do with my hair? She's French, isn't she? She might even have been to Paris. And Paris is the very height of fashion!
She might have all kinds of tricks. Paints, embellishments, ways to curl hair without damage... I have to know!
(I have never seen her so passionate.)
For how ominously the conversation started, the request turned out to be rather innocent. I'm surprised this is the first time somebody's asked, to be honest-- though I suppose it's improper, and Jessie would be the only one who would. Lavinia would be far too proud, Lottie's too young, and I doubt Ermengarde cares much about styling her hair.
And if you ask her nicely, I'm sure she will talk to you about Paris fashions. She does know a great deal more about hair and clothing than I do.
But — I think your hair looks perfectly nice as it is.
perfect. It's never
She pulled a section of her long red hair over her shoulder and glared at it.
Your hair can't make you sinful.
Well, of course it's not true, but it's what other people think that matters!
And there's nothing I can do about it. Diet doesn't help. I could try to stain it black, but then it might be damaged, or mark my clothing, and I would be humiliated...
She cut herself off, forcing her features back into the shape of a smile.
I must not damage my hair. Even if it is too long and heavy for the best dancing. It is my responsibility.
The length of my hair is my one unique beauty, you see. It's something that other girls can't copy, not unless they spend years working at it, like I have. It is my task to make myself as beautiful and accomplished as possible, so that I can catch the eye of a gentleman.
It's different for girls like you and Lavvie. You are your father's only heir. You will be wealthy. And I... will be pretty.
(Is that the only thing she wants to be?)
Well, come and visit me, and I will try to help you talk to Mariette.
Thank you! You're so sweet.
:yikesaroo: Okay, so Jessie has some major hangups here. Googling stuff about Victorian fashion brings up dubious sources, so I tried to dig up some contemporary books of fashion advice for women. Hair was a big deal in the Victorian era-- you wanted a lot of it, and you wanted it to look beautiful and healthy. It was considered a mark of elegance and refinement to have long, well-tended hair.
Redheadedness has had a long history of connotations with witchcraft and lustfulness, going back to the medieval era and continuing to this day. One of the books I looked at from 1897 said that auburn or "even red" hair had become a "craze"-- though I think the author likely meant the lighter, more ginger shade of red, as that section was about artificially lightening hair. Though today the connotations make red hair more desirable than undesirable, in the very moralist and prudish culture of the Victorian era I can see why Jessie would be self-conscious.
Maybe some hair talk can cheer her up, at least. And speaking of Mariette...
Sara extended her arms, letting them drift into ballet second-position.
Now, over your head, so I can see the fabric stretch?
Mariette was making the final adjustments to Sara's new pink dancing-frock, after pointing out that Sara's change in height meant her old ones no longer fit just-so.
Ah! — a touch, just there. Take it off again, if you please, and I'll have it done before your next lesson.
Sara wriggled free of the soft fabric and handed it over.
It's such a beautiful colour. And the skirt is so light.
Dancing in that, I shall feel like — a pink butterfly, floating on the breeze. Or a fairy princess, with wings like rose petals.
Roses... That is what it needs. A wreath of roses for your head. I will find some buds at the florist’s.
The mental picture of herself decked out in a pink dancing-frock with a crown of flowers was so delightful that Sara laughed aloud.
Mademoiselle does have a very good imagination.
No, it is the Magic. The Magic shapes our lives, and makes everything wonderful.
Sara's heart was lighter than a feather.
Well, that was a cute little scene, even if it was clearly just a bit of fluff. We can forgive the game for its filler, though, because at last the time has come for Becky's full, proper introduction!
There were pictures and books and curious things from India; there was a sofa and the low, soft chair; Emily sat in a chair of her own, with the air of a presiding goddess, and there was always a glowing fire and a polished grate. Because the room was such a nice, bright, pretty place, the little scullery maid known as Becky liked to save it until the end of her afternoon's work. If luck was with her, she could snatch a few minutes to sit alone in the soft chair and look around, thinking about the wonderful good fortune of the child who owned such surroundings.
Her hard-working young body was tired past the limits of endurance. As she looked at the red coals, a tired, slow smile stole over her smudged face, her head nodded forward without her being aware of it, and her eyelids drooped.
Oh! That poor thing!
Becky looked nothing like any illustration of Sleeping Beauty. Her gown was stained, her face smeared with soot, and her poor little kerchief hung half-off her head. Even her face, beneath the dirt, was a plain one. She looked only like an ugly, stunted, worn-out little scullery drudge. But Sara was not cross to find such a figure in her own favourite chair.
The game is getting a little judgy here (almost all of that was original text, iirc), but I think that Becky is heckin' adorable. I won't go into what a scullery is or the duties of a scullery maid here, since I plan on doing an in-depth on it rather soon, but know it is the lowest position in the servant hierarchy, with duties thankless, difficult, and deeply unpleasant.
She crept closer to the chair, walking quietly on raised feet, and stood there, looking at her.
... zzz ...
(I wish she'd waken herself. I don't wish to waken her, but Miss Minchin will be cross if she finds out... I'll just wait a few minutes.)
She took a seat on the edge of the table and sat swinging her slim legs. If Miss Minchin came looking for Becky, she was sure to be scolded.
(But she is so tired. So tired!)
At that moment, Sara's indecision was interrupted by a popping sound from the fire. A piece of flaming coal had broken and shifted.
Becky sprang to her feet, clutching at her kerchief to set it right.
Oh, miss! Oh, miss! I arst yer pardon, miss! Oh, I do, miss!
She speaks! She speaks, as you surely noticed, in a noticeable dialect. It's present in the book and consistent with how lower servants tended to speak in most contemporary works. Becky's dialogue certainly stands out and poses a contrast to Sara's, but I don't remember it ever being incomprehensible or hard to parse. If I suspect any cause for confusion, I'll try to clear it up.
Don't be frightened. It doesn't matter the least bit.
I didn't go to do it, miss! It was the warm fire — an' me bein' so tired. It—it weren't
Sara broke into a friendly little laugh.
You were tired; you could not help it. You are not really awake yet.
Ain't — ain't y'angry, miss? Ain't you gonna tell the missus?
No! Of course I'm not.
Sara shook her head.
Why, we are just the same — I am only a little girl like you. It's just an accident that I am not you, and you are not me!
'n accident, miss?
Here, miss? Me?
If your bedrooms are finished, perhaps you might stay a tiny while? I thought, perhaps, you might like a piece of cake.
Yes, of course.
The next ten minutes seemed to Becky like a sort of fever-dream. The show pupil opened a cupboard and produced a thick slice of cake, all for her, and actually seemed enthusiastic about watching Becky eat it.
I think poor Becky is a little overwhelmed by all this kindness and understanding.
A few weeks ago, you were watching me through the area railing, weren't you?
Yes, miss. I...
Oncet, I saw a princess. I was standin' in the street with the crowd outside Covent Garden, watchin' the swells go inter the opera. An' there was one everyone stared at most. They says to each other, 'That's the princess.’ She was a growed-up young lady, but she was pink and lace all over, an’ flowers an' all, as pretty as anything.
That's what you looked like, miss, that day. You looked like her.
There are a lot of possibilities for this princess-- Queen Victoria had 5 daughters of her own and 4 sons, each of whom had wives, and numerous grandchildren. I like to imagine that it's Princess Louise, because she's cool as heck. I recommend reading up on her.
I believe I will begin pretending I am one.
Ain't you already?
From elsewhere in the school, there was the sound of a door slamming.
Oh, miss! I've got to — got to go.
Come back some day when you have more time, and I can finish that story you were listening to. I'm always putting new bits to it in my head.
Oh, miss... if you do that, I won't mind how heavy the coal boxes was, or what
Cook done to me, if I might have that to think of...
She bobbed an awkward little curtsey, grabbing for her kerchief when it slipped again, and then hurried from the room.
And just like that, our roster is finally complete. We're nearing the end of Act 1, now, and we very much want to focus on finishing up what routes we can. Ermengarde has one event left, Jessie two, and Becky four. While we still have some weeks left, it's only going to be possible to bring in two of them. And because Act 2 is quite a bit tighter, we also want to start thinking about whose route we're going to ultimately choose for this run.
If you're interested, I have written out the stat requirements for Jessie and Becky's events here (the ones for Ermen's last scene are in the image), so that the thread can more effectively plan our weekday activities. I'd rather not skip any weeks if we can help it, and knowing what stats we can safely spend would help avoid that.
Here is activity information-- remember to discuss and vote, and I look forward to see you all next time. Bye!