Saturday, October 07, 2006
New Beginning 138
"Is it true he is handsome, this contract of yours?"
Arbelle was combing her sister's hair: long, slow, steady strokes bringing the night tangles to the surface where she could tease them free. Her sister already wore her morning dress and was putting together her face before breakfast. It was a good morning ritual, the brushing of the hair; a time for sibling gossip before facing the rest of the family, and the world that insisted on invading their home.
"I have a picture of him in my safe-room," said Delaem. She put her hand on the brush to stop her sister's work, turned round and smiled. "He appears reasonably handsome."
They both giggled, no care for decorum. "Pictures can be doctored, you know," said Arbelle. "Mother whispered to me one night that Father's picture was at least ten years out of date when she came to compare it to the flesh!"
"Indeed," Dalaem said, "but I sent a maid to verify his likeness. His skin is smooth and taut as a nectarine's."
They laughed wantonly at this. "But skin can be tighted," said Arbelle. "Father told me Aunt Constance's face was so stretched she could but grin like an imbecile."
"Oh, but he can be no more than twenty-five, for his teeth are perfectly white." Dalaem stretched her lips to show her own teeth, and they giggled again like infants.
"But teeth can be whitened. Grandmother told me how Uncle Thorgood had every tooth replaced with pearl." Arbelle smiled coquettishly. "He is strong and virile, though? I shall quickly have a niece or nephew?"
"I asked the maid her opinion." Dalaem flushed as she continued. "She told me by the way he fills his britches he puts a horse to shame."
They laughed uncontrollably, and then Arbelle said, "But do you not remember the surgery that cousin Silas took?" The color drained from Dalaem's face as she recalled it.