The staff at Eldridge Estate had been hard at work all morning. Every last piece of silver had been rubbed so many times that Radford, the butler, could see his long face in the platter. "Why all the fuss?" asked Lady Elizabeth, but she knew why. Today was the day that the man her father intended her to marry would visit Eldridge for the first time. Elizabeth was sure the fellow was going to be a frightful bore. An arranged marriage? Where was the romance? She may as well move to one of those frightful foreign places she’d heard about.
"Lord Shroppingham," Radford announced, and in walked her future husband. Tall, blonde, not entirely unhandsome, she thought. "Lady Elizabeth," he said, bowing slightly. "I understand this is all very strange, but allow me to present you with a token of my intention." He opened his hand to reveal a pearl sautoir.
Now this wasn’t just any pearl necklace. An Edwardian sautoir was, and is, the essence of elegance, and the sautoire in Lord Shroppingham’s hand had a dazzling diamond encrusted pendant, with an accompanying tassel of pearls.
ReLady Elizabeth felt light-headed, but fought to maintain her composure. "Isn’t this a little forward, giving a lady pearls at our first meeting?" she asked. "But pearls are not just the most beautiful gemstone," Lord Shroppingham explained. "They are also the most organic, growing natural, as they do. It is my hope that these pearls represent our future, and that if we are patient, our love will grow into something this magnificent." Lady Elizabeth felt the room begin to spin, but it was okay. Lord Shroppingham was there to catch her in his arms.