Annabelle and Rose were cleaning while gazing at Elizabeth. Lizzy who was in the fireplace again cleaning the soot. She was thorough and careful not to blacken her apron and dress. When Lizzy left the room, Rose came bounding towards Annabelle, "So finish the story, what happened!"
Well Barlow didn't say much to me per se but I did overhear him tell Jos that Stuveton seemed to try Lizzy on last night in the kitchen but that hadn't he come sooner, he expected he would have seen much flesh and crying.
"So Stuveton attacked Elizabeth?"
That's according to Glen but I think he soft on Lizzy and doesn't realize she is a trollop."
"I bet...it was Lizzy that came onto Stuveton. And who could blame a man when he has a female in his snares, despite there being nothing much special about her except she is available and interested."
"Wow...this is too much. And she plays such an innocent." Rose said wide-eyed.
"I don't believe we need her hanging here much more. Her corrupting influence over the servants and her being a bad housekeeper?"
"Well, I feel she does fairly with keeping things tidy."
"I disagree. She has made a mess with this fireplace." And with that Annabelle poured the wastebin full of soot all over the fireplace again.
Lizzy was helping Gemma with her hair. Gemma had warmed up to Elizabeth almost immediately and had requested that she help her with her dress this afternoon. She was brushing Gemma's hair and telling her how lucky she was to have such a full cascade of golden hair.
"You know with a pretty dress and your hair pinned up, you would easily be the belle of the ball."
"You think so?" Gemma smiled at Lizzy eagerly.
"Well, of course, you can't be unaware that you are a natural beauty and that it is only your natural modesty that prevents you from saying so."
Gemma blushed. "I hope very much you will help me pick out the dress for the ball. I love how you explain things so neatly to me. That daytime should be sober attire though, with my frame, I should make sure to keep dresses at the same time light and delicate as I am thin-boned.
"Certainly." Lizzy was putting the pins in her Gemma's hair.
"Can I ask you a personal question?" Gemma ventured.
"Well, certainly you can ask, though I can't say whether I will answer," Lizzy said matter of factly.
"I hope you will forgive me if it is a blunder to speak of things openly but I wonder what you would do if I were with a dance partner and he wanted to spend time alone with me. I've heard of girls that sometimes do that and it often ends up badly for them. I wonder am I to turn him down?"
"You would do well too. You have to understand men are...very different from women. They can take advantage of a woman's innocence but they are often spared the contempt by others judgments whereas a woman has only to ineffectually defend herself from the man that she can be cast aside from society as unfit."
"It does seem so unfair." Gemma shook her head. "Do you know anyone like that personally."
"Well, I have heard stories." Lizzy blushed with her eyes cast down.
"I tell you I am nervous, especially with some men as I know I would not be able to defend myself if I were alone and he was to...overpower me physically."
Lizzy looked at Gemma's pinched expression.
"Are you thinking of anyone in particular?"
"Yes, just now I thought of Lord Stuveton. He seems a dangerous sort of fellow. Everyone says so."
"Yes." Lizzy swallowed her lump in her throat.
"I wonder too. If a girl were to be outcast. Where would she go what would she do? What a terribly small life I fear she would have."
"I hardly know dear," Elizabeth said almost breathlessly. She was growing discomfited by the topic and hurriedly finished Gemma's hair.