arranged,” she agreed, though her brow puckered slightly. “With Abigail?” “I—I don’t think so. Not for dinner. Perhaps—perhaps in the afternoon we could have some of my school friends in for tea.” Mrs. Winston smiled. “That’s a wonderful idea,” she enthused. “I will begin making the arrangements right away.” Cassie knew from years of experience that the “tea” would be done with an elegant flair. Her mother enjoyed afternoon teas and Cassie’s friends were bound to be impressed.
The tea was perfect. All her friends told her so. Attractive gifts helped to make her little party a day to be cherished in memories. The family dinner party was just as successful. Her mother and father both seemed pleased that she had chosen to have a family celebration. Even her brothers were quite awed and entered wholeheartedly in the spirit of the event. I am now eighteen, thought Cassie later that evening as she unpinned her long tresses and let them spill over her shoulders. Then she lifted up the new emerald-green silk from her parents and studied her image in the mirror. Mama is right. It does suit my coloring . She had noticed that her mother had not said “red hair and freckles” but “coloring.” It sounded so much better. But the hair was still just as red, she noticed, though the gown did enhance her green eyes. “Mama says the freckles are fading,” she told her reflection, “but they are still there. I can see them. One here, another here, and one there—and there.” Cassie turned from her mirror, not wanting to count any more freckles. “Abigail says she’s heard of women who cover them up with face powder,” she continued her soliloquy. “I must see if I can find some the next time I am shopping.” And feeling a little better about her appearance, Cassie carefully hung her new dress in the wardrobe and prepared for bed.
Dr. Corouthers must know that I am now eighteen, Cassie thought in frustration. Her father’s guests had been to dinner and were now ensconced in her father’s study discussing medical things again. Cassie felt a bit of annoyance that no sign of an approach had been made to her father. She had purchased the face powder and had come to an understanding with her mother as to how much a proper young lady might be free to use—but still the gentleman had not asked if he could call. It’s my red hair, she fumed silently. He does not find it at –tractive. “I noticed that Dr. Corouthers pays you fine compliments,” her mother spoke, interrupting her dark reverie. Compliments, yes, Cassie wanted to respond, but no inquir – ing if he might call. I am beginning to think he is just a flirt. Instead, she answered demurely, “He is a pleasant conversationalist,” then turned their conversation to other things. Cassie was about to lay aside her sewing and retire for the night when her father entered the room. His brow was slightly puckered as though he had been caught off guard on some matter. Mrs. Winston looked up with concern in her eyes. He flashed a plea for help in her direction and then turned to Cassie. “There is a young man in the library waiting to speak with you,” he said, puzzlement on his face spilling over into his tone. Cassie rose to her feet, sharing her father’s confusion. “He asked me if he could—but I said you are now of age and should speak for yourself,” Dr. Winston went on. Cassie stood bewildered, unsure whether to sit back down or move toward the door. “Well, don’t keep the young gentleman waiting, dear,” Mrs. Winston urged, and Cassie looked at her mother to see a soft smile playing about her lips. Cassie paled, then flushed. Her fingers trembled and her knees shook. It has come. Dr. Corouthers is finally asking if he might call. She’d had no idea that it would catch her so by surprise when it finally did happen. She had considered herself prepared. But now as she moved forward on wooden legs, her mouth