While doing research for my new holiday novella, I came across a list of etiquette rules for the Victorian Era child. Since my heroine, Madeline is forced to deal with her brother’s spoiled children on a daily basis, I thought I’d mix the rules of proper behavior with bits from a scene in the nursery.
Etiquette for the Victorian Child
Talk in a low even voice.
As she rounded the turn on the third floor landing, the first shrill notes of the children’s
screeching reached her ears. She sighed. This would not be a story-and-a-quick-kiss sort of night.
Always greet members of your family when entering a room.
“Oh Miss,” Molly cried as Madeline pushed open the door. Toys and books lay scattered across the area rug. Alex was jumping on his bed, and little Penelope sat in the middle of the floor screaming.
Never argue with your elders, they know best.
“Alex, you will cease that infernal jumping.”
“No. I want a story.”
“Alex, do not argue with your elders.
Never run up and down stairs or across the room.
“She wants to go to Mother’s party.” Alex explained as he continued to bounce up and down.
Beneath his bare feet, a crater-like indentation had formed in the center of the horsehair mattress.
Never whine or frown when spoken to by your elders.
Do as you are told in a pleasant and willing way.
Molly steered the little girl away from the dress toward the wash basin on the other side of the room.
Madeline wasn’t sure what happened, but the next moment Molly cried out, and Penelope began shrieking.
“She bit me!” Molly cupped her wounded hand to her breast.
Never talk back to older people, especially your mother and father.
“I never touched the child.” Molly exclaimed.
“Yes, she did.” Alex argued as he jumped. The tails of his nightshirt billowed and sagged above his ankles. “I saw her. She hit Penelope.”
Keep yourself clean and neat looking at all times.
“Alex, please get into bed. There will be no stories tonight. Penelope, you will apologize to Molly, and if there is any more biting, you will lose desserts for a week. Now go with Molly and wash your hands and face.”
Never contradict anyone under any circumstances. It is very impolite.
Alex narrowed his eyes. “Where are you going?”
“I am to be married and will be moving far, far away.”
Alex fell back on the bed laughing. “You’re not getting married. You’re lying. No one wants you. You’re a ’barrasment. Father said so.”
Madeline stiffened as though she’d been slapped. She bit her lip against the pain. They weren’t close, but she never imagined her brother would betray her like that with a child. She slipped her hand into the pocket of her gown and removed her spectacles. Hooking them behind her ears, she pushed aside the hurt and stepped toward the boy, her hands on her hips.
“Get yourself into this bed right now, young man, or I will…”
He glared at her defiantly.
Her mind raced. “I will march outside, cut a switch from the nearest tree, come back here, and apply it directly to your backside.”
“You can’t do that,” he declared though a shadow of doubt crossed his features.
A rapid knocking sounded on the nursery door. Madeline glanced toward Molly, who hurried past her to answer it.
Alex rolled off the bed. “Mother will never let you hurt us.”
“It won’t matter. I am leaving.” She watched Alex wrestle with this logic even as she wondered why she was arguing with a six year old.
“Miss,” Molly called.
Waving both hands, Molly urged Madeline to come quickly. Her heart skipped with excitement as she hurried across the room. James had arrived.
Blurb: After a magical waltz in a winter wonderland with the only man who has ever made her believe she is beautiful, Madeline Winthrop doesn't think life could be anymore perfect--until the night of the Christmas ball when she learns everything James Sullivan has told her is a lie.
Revenge against Madeline's brother forces James to do what ever is necessary to get back what was stolen from him, even if he has to use Madeline to do it. But the one thing he doesn't count on is the way she makes him feel.
Coming Soon from The Wild Rose Press