Mama was already washed and dressed, sitting by the window. Her hair was still in its braid, and I got up to brush it for her. “Should I do something different?”
Her brows knit together. “Whatever for?”
I brush and twist and pin, and soon she is the mother I have always known, with a tight knot at her nape and a tatted collar around the neck of her new dress.
She talks to Claire while I wash. I emerge in my corset cover and petticoat, not wanting to wrestle myself into my new dress in the bathroom.
“Let me.” Claire drops it over my head and does up the buttons, smoothing the green fabric over my hips and straightening the high collar. “You look beautiful.”
“Look who’s talking.” My gaze sweeps over her gown, hung now on the outside of the wardrobe, waiting for her to put it on. The heavy ivory satin is like nothing I’ve ever touched, and the clever bodice, wrapping over a front panel of beaded lace to join with the hip sash, is a marvel of construction. The skirt is straight, with an asymmetric overskirt and a short train.
It is simple and elegant, not at all what I would have expected from Claire, who never met a ruffle she didn’t like.