Chapter Three

When Madeline had entered the house her mother tsked at her. She was way to dirty for her liking. She was sent to go change into cleaner clothes. There was no time to bath. The guests would arrive in ten minutes.

She climbed up the stairs; her feet automatically took her to where her old bedroom was. She slowly opened the door and entered. Everything was still the same. White wallpaper with a floral pattern still clung to the wooden walls. Light pink colored curtains hung around the big window in the center of the room. A little dresser and vanity with a mirror was against a wall. The wall across from it had a little closet and bookcase. The bed lay against the wall behind her, in a corner of the room. Clean white shirts were upon it. Also, upon the bed was what her mother chose for her to wear for that evening.

"Do you need any help, dear?" asked Mrs. Anderson, who was standing in the doorway.

She wore the popular dress style of the 1860's, the time of when she was a young woman. Madeline wanted to tell her that it was 1876 and that fashion was out of date, but she kept her mouth shut. She didn't want to flatter Mrs. Anderson with the knowledge of her actually paying attention to what she had—somewhat.

Her ball gown was a dark green color. The bodice had a low neckline and short sleeves off the shoulder that puffed out. The hoop skirt was curricular and wide all around. Two skirts covered it. A black colored skirt was under a green ruffled one. Her black hair was parted in the middle, poofed over the ears and braided in a low bun. Accessories she wore were a low gold necklace, gold earrings, and gold bracelets on each wrist.

Madeline looked over at what she had to wear and reluctantly nodded. "Yes, please."

Mrs. Anderson walked in and closed the door. She walked over to the bed. "Come," she commanded.

Madeline narrowed her eyes at her. She was being nice and not putting up a fight about it and Mrs. Anderson was still being commanding. Madeline pushed her anger to the side and walked over to the bed.

"Get out of that dirty day dress."

Madeline took off the dress with the help of Mrs. Anderson and was left in her undergarments. Mrs. Anderson grabbed the corset off the bed and put it around Madeline.

"I don't see why I have to—" Madeline gasped, Mrs. Anderson had tightened the laces of the corset. Madeline narrowed her eyes. She believed that she had done that purposely.

"Wear this," Madeline continued. "It's hard to breath and my breasts look as if they are being served on a platter."

"It would be easier for you to breath if you didn't talk so much," said Anderson.

She grabbed the bustle that was on the bed. She put it around Madeline and tied it around the waist. Next she assisted her in putting on the light pink evening dress. The pink bodice had a low neckline and off-the-shoulders sleeves. Two pink skirts with frills, ruffles, and red ribbons were put over the bustle.

After getting her dress, Mrs. Anderson made her sit on the vanity chair. She pulled back her brown hair and put it in a high cluster of ringlets. Mrs. Anderson grabbed the long velvet ribbon off the bed and tied it high around her neck, letting it trail down behind her back. She then handed her two short white gloves and a pair of boots, which Madeline put on. Lastly, Anderson put tint on her cheeks and lips.

Mrs. Anderson smiled at her. "Look at how beautiful you look. The pink color matches your pale skin perfectly."

Madeline silently agreed with her. She loved to dress up and look pretty and feminine. But what she didn't like was the reason behind why she had to dress up—to impress available bachelors. She didn't want to impress anybody, especially bachelors.

A knock on the door broke her thoughts. "Mrs. Anderson, Maddie," said the voice of her Pa. "Are ya ready? The guests are here."

"We're coming, Bill," Mrs. Anderson said.

Madeline got up off the chair and followed Mrs. Anderson to the door. She could feel the skirts trailing on the ground behind her. Mrs. Anderson opened the door and both stepped out into the hallway. Voices from the parlor traveled up the stairs, causing Madeline to become nervous. Social events always made her nervous. Madeline was about to descend after Mrs. Anderson, but stopped short when she saw who was at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for them.

Mrs. Anderson gave Bill a small smile and nod as she walked past him, not noticing that Madeline had stopped following. He looked up at his daughter. It was the first time Madeline had ever seen her Pa dressed formally. He stood straight and tall in his black vest over a white shirt and black trousers. A nice pattern tie was around his neck and went under the vest. A black waistcoat was over the vest and shirt. Black dress shoes shined from the perfect polish.

He gave her a small, nervous small. It was then that Madeline realized that her Pa would do anything for her mother, his wife. He was willing to dress up for her, even when it was out of his area and made him nervous. Would he marry her off, just for her mother's sake?

Madeline shook her head, sending that negative thought away. She returned her Pa's smile and descended the stairs. When she reached the bottom, he held out his arm. She took it and he started to lead her to the parlor.

"Ya look beautiful, Maddie," he said.

"Thank you, Pa. You look quite dashing yourself."

Inside the parlor, there was Mrs. Anderson sitting on the white couch, talking to another woman. Her light blonde hair was in ringlets. Her ball gown was a light blue. She turned to look at Madeline and Bill. The woman looked to be around forty and had laugh lines around her mouth. Her bright blue eyes shone with laughter. She stood up and started walking toward them.

Four men sat at the small round table, talking. Each one stood up when Madeline and Bill entered the parlor. Two were dressed like her father. One looked to be around his fifties with white hair. He was short and round in the tummy. An air of importance and greediness hung around him. The other looked to be around his early twenties and was handsome. He had a strong chiseled face with blue eyes that looked like the woman's and dirty blond hair.

The other two men were dressed in blue cavalry uniforms. One man looked to be of higher ranking than the other, for he had all sorts of medals hanging on his coat. His gray hair was perfectly combed to the side, hiding a bald spot. His eyes were a cold grey color. A sword hung at his side. The lower ranking officer stood in perfect posture. He had brown hair and eyes. A moustache was above his upper lip and curled down at the sides of the mouth.

"Good evening, Bill," the woman said when she reached them. He replied a good evening back to her. She looked over at Madeline. "And you must be Madeline?"

"Yes, Madame..." trailed Madeline.

"Madame Ashley Foster," she supplied. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you." Madeline tried to hide her curious and suspicious look, but it must have shown on her face. "Your mother talks about you all the time."

"Oh," she said in reply. Of course. She looked around the room, her mother was no where to be seen.

"This way," Madame Foster said, lightly grabbing her hand.

Madeline reluctantly let go of her Pa and allowed the older woman to lead her to the four men at the table. "Dear," she said to Madeline. "This is my husband, Thomas Foster."

The short man with the round tummy came forward. He nodded at Madeline. "He is the mayor of the town," Madame Foster said proudly.

"I am Michael Foster," the man with the same eyes as Madame Foster introduced himself. He lightly took her hand and kissed her knuckles, just like James had done earlier. But this time her Pa didn't say anything.

So, Madeline thought, this must be the one who mother wants to marry me off to. I can see why she chose him. He's handsome, wealthy, and when his father dies, he will most likely take over as major.

She hated the look in his eyes; it was as if he had won a prize. His smile was way too big. Madeline could easily tell that he held the same greediness as his father and was spoiled. So he thinks he can get whatever he wants, he'll soon learn that you can't get everything you want. "It is a pleasure to meet you," Madeline said sweetly.

The young officer stepped forward. "Lieutenant Douglas Hopkins," he introduced himself as. He held his hand out, surprising Madeline. They shook hands and she decided right then and there that she liked this man. He could see her as who she really was. He would make a good friend.

"And this guy," he hit the higher ranking officer on the back, "is Colonel Frank Johnson."

The Colonel just nodded, he didn't say a word—just like Mayor Foster. Madeline knew their kind. They thought they were above all females. However did Mister Foster marry? Maybe the only reason Madame Foster married him was for his wealth. Yeah, she looks like the type to do that.

Her mother came out of the dining room. She wore the same thing as Madeline, expect the dress was a dark purple color and the ribbon on the skirts were black. "Dinner is ready," she announced.