The next day, Roxanne felt fit enough to make her way downstairs after luncheon. The doctor had visited in the morning and pronounced her well on the road to recovery. Although he advised her to keep her arm in a sling for a day longer, Roxanne dispensed with it. The mouse-like Becky proved to be most helpful in her impromptu role of dresser. She laid out a garment for Roxanne on the bed.
“Becky?” Roxanne was surprised to see a dress that was definitely not hers.
“Yes, Miss?” squeaked Becky, with a polite bob.
“I think you’ve made a mistake.” Roxanne pointed to the garment. “That’s not mine.”
“No, Miss,” said Becky with another bob. “It’s on the Master’s orders. Yer gown seemed to be a bit spoiled with yer…er…accident and the Master says Miss Sophia’s got more dresses than she knows what to do with.”
Becky looked embarrassed.
“That’s wot ’e said,” she whispered. “Then ’e said since you might be short of a few things seeing as ye come with only a small bag, Mrs. Dawson was to pick out some nice dresses to suit yer.”
She opened the wardrobe that fairly bulged with a variety of stylish garments.
Roxanne was dumbfounded.
“I cannot wear someone else’s clothes,” she announced firmly. She picked the dress off the bed and thrust it into Becky’s arms.
“Put it back at once. I will wear my own gown.”
The terrified Becky made a series of frantic bobs and then burst into tears.
“Ye canna wear the other one!” she sobbed.
She rushed to the wardrobe and pointed to the array of dresses.
“They’s not worn at all. All brand-new. Miss Sophia was well fitted out with ’er troussoo and all by the Dook wot she married and by the Master’s aunt. She ’as no need of ’em and ’as prob’ly forgotten ’em says Mrs. Dawson. And the Master will be so angry that I didn’t do my job if ye don’t wear this that I’ll get the sack. Ye’re to meet ’im in the library as soon as yer ready.”
Roxanne eyed the stylish dress Becky clutched with a young woman’s natural pleasure. Since her own dress was missing and probably was being cleaned, she might as well wear the one offered. Besides, she did not want Becky to lose her job because of her stubbornness.
Becky had unpacked her comb and other necessary items of a lady’s toilette and set them out on the dressing table. Roxanne was grateful for Becky’s help in arranging her hair. Her arm still ached when she lifted it. The pale amber, high-necked gown in a plain style, with long sleeves and a small ruffle at the hem, became her admirably and enhanced her moss-green eyes. The bodice, trimmed with small knots of satin ribbon, fitted as if made for her. Becky reverently draped a Norwich silk shawl over Roxanne’s shoulders.
Pensive, Roxanne stared at her reflection. With her hair in her usual simple style, and a few stray curls falling about her ears, she seemed exactly the same as before. Two faint patches of colour glowed on her cheeks. There was no sign of the terrified, bedraggled creature she had been two nights ago, when she had fought and won her survival. It seemed impossible to picture that dreadful scene of near rape and assault.
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