You could say many things about her, perception is but in the eye of the beholder. But whatever attributed charms or faults, Ella was, actually, uncanningly shy.
She would never see, or even if she saw, she wouldn’t believe, that anyone would give her any attention, and she, in return, wouldn’t particularly give her attentions to anyone either. It was quite a sad state of mind in which Ella found herself, for neither getting herself attached nor attaching anyone to her, she couldn’t help but feel something missing in her life.
One day that she received a letter from a friend three Kingdoms away, she finally admitted in a potential solution to that issue. It had already been days, nay, weeks, since the idea had sprung in her thoughts. Well, actually, it had been first planted there by another friend of hers from across the seven seas. At the time she thought the solution was too old-fashioned for her beliefs. Now that so many of her friends, and so unconnected friends they were, were using these means, she was reconsidering.
You see, in these far away Realms, it wasn’t uncommon for ladies to send for portraits of eligible gentlemen from their areas, pick the ones they liked best and if they had been so lucky as to be picked themselves by the gentleman (or men) a correspondence would follow. The rest, was then up to the paired up couples.
If Ella had previously been repulsed by the idea of being matched in such impersonal ways, she now saw the fun it procured her friends and felt she could now be daring enough to partake in such proceedings.
So she sent out for the portraits.
When she received them, she was first quite overwhelmed. But still she went on. She threw ones she knew would never do on her left side and kept a pile of potential maybes on her right side. She couldn’t help but notice the consequential difference between the two piles and felt quite heartless to dispose of so many so indifferently.
Then she consoled herself the gentlemen would have no more scruples by throwing her portrait either.
She had not foreseen though, that so many, if not all, of her “yes” were turned into a match and many correspondences followed. As flustered as Ella’s little heart was, she did her best to be a faithful writer to most of them. The ones that had the misfortune of being too direct she instantly severed all ties.
Then one day she received the painting of a man she believed she had no choice but to accept. Indeed, everything recommended him, his stature (tall), his features and electric blue eyes, his fair hair (not too short, but not too long either), his age (but a couple of years older than herself) and his affection for water sports. Indeed, everything she ought to like.
And so she did.
And it seemed he liked her back because an unprecedented flow of conversation ensued. It didn’t take long for the gentleman to request a private audience. Everything that was proper of course. And they settled for luncheon on the very next day.
Ella, not doubting one second that all was to go well, was all excitement and precipitation in her preparations the next morning. And it was with a heart full of courage that she stepped towards the meeting venue.
Treading lightly into the crowded center, she did not imagine not finding him. She looked on, but either hidden by the hustle and bustle of the place, or not yet arrived, she could not for the life of her see him. She had taken the precaution of being late though…
As she continued to search for the gentleman, her gazed crossed another. Once. Twice… She didn’t let it happen a third time before removing herself into a slightly more hidden place where she could observe the looker-on with more ease.
But surely it could not be him.
Yes he was tall and blondish. But no. The features, the attitude, were not the right ones. Besides, he hadn’t come forward to her.
She ventured out in the open again, but this time when their gaze crossed again, she felt a bolt of panic rising inside of her. And her instinctual response was to… Run away.
It was him. Undoubtedly, it was him. But not the perfect age appropriate she was told. No, he was decidedly a much older gentleman. Which in itself, may not have been a fault, but being caught of guard, and well, lied to, got the best of our little Ella.
She resolved to explain to him her absence at the meeting place by lying as well. She proceeded to send him word that some urgent business she had to take care of had arisen at the most untimely moment.
He, in reply, did not believe her and pushed for an explanation. Ella, not being without feelings, even when deceived, gave a, not less sensitive, but more probable explanation: she had been scared of meeting a complete stranger for the first time, and when the moment approached, her emotions gave way.
He understood, he said. But pressed her for a second chance.
She did not reply.
He asked again. And again. And finally gave up.
Ella, not sure why or how, felt relieved.
She had tried the old-fashioned way. It had failed. And so it was with a light heart that she took up all the paintings and correspondences and threw them away.
Whether it was timing, or the manner, or her disposition, it wasn’t right. And so she settled to wait for the winds to change in her favour. No matter how long they would take to blow her way.
XoXo – With tinder love and affection.