When Mother asked me to come with her to call
On Miss Walker, of course I said yes. She is, after all,
Catherine's best friend, and if a bit off from time to time,
Well, we cannot help how we're made. I knew, of course,
About Miss Lister, what Catherine had murmured
About her before they went off, what my uncles mutter,
What my grandmother seems to revel in. For myself,
I don't know how to put these puzzle pieces together.
If a woman as respectable as Miss Walker considers her
A friend, how can she be someone to worry about?
It makes no sense. And anyway, Mother can be a bit
Shrewish when she has a bee in her bonnet. If Catherine
Likes Ann Walker, and Ann likes Miss Lister, I see
No reason not to offer friendship myself. We arrived
At Lytcliffe, and Ann's man announced us. We could hear
Giggling in the parlor, which seemed odd. We entered,
Only to find Miss Lister already tete-a-tete with Ann,
And Mother seemed petulant and put off, barely wanted
To shake Miss Lister's hand, whereas me, when Miss Lister
Took my hand, it was all I could do to string three words
Together and then remember to let go her hand. Mother,
Annoyed, suggested, pointedly, that since Miss Walker
Already had company, perhaps we should leave?
The Miss Walker Catherine has described would surely
Have found a way to let Miss Lister leave with no ill feelings.
Instead, she said, "If you like." The two of them on one sofa,
Looking open and unconcerned, tested Mother's impatience.
We sat. Mother said complimentary things about Ann, but
Then Miss Lister said something about me, looking like Catherine,
But with fuller lips, and it was clear to me from the way
She looked at me, and stroked a finger over her own lower lip,
That she thought me finer than my sister. Mother disliked
My blushing, I could tell. I've had a few men compliment my looks,
But never like this, never so acutely. Mother distracted her, asked,
Pointedly, about Miss Lister showing up so unexpectedly
In the Lake District, and when she said, "Wild horses couldn't keep me
Away," I believed her. Someday I must find a friend like her,
Who thinks of me, wherever I am, when she has a free afternoon.
Or a man, of course, a suitor. Someone who could smile with mouth
And eyes, and make a girl feel not only seen but appreciated.