- 1 Characters
- 2 Chapter by Chapter Summary
- 3 Items associated with Felicity's Surprise
- 4 Book Covers
- 5 Trivia
- Felicity Merriman
- Edward Merriman
- Martha Merriman
- Nan Merriman
- William Merriman
- Benjamin Davidson
- Elizabeth Cole
- Annabelle Cole
- Miss Manderly
- Mr. Galt
Chapter by Chapter Summary
Chapter One: An Invitation to the Palace
Felicity runs along the frozen path, before turning sideways and sliding fast on a smooth stretch of ice. She tries to get Nan to slide on the ice with her, but Nan refuses, saying it's improper and that they had promised Mother they would go straight home after cutting enough holly to fill their baskets. Felicity continues to slide on the various patches of ice while Nan picks up the holly sprigs falling out of Felicity's basket.
When the girls return home, Mother says they've done a fine job collecting the holly and that she'll be able to work Christmas magic around the house. Mother tells Felicity and Nan to warm up by the fire and that they'll be able to decorate the house as a surprise for Father and Ben.
They hear someone knocking on the door and Mother calls for Felicity to answer it, as she has her hands full with William and the holly. When Felicity answers it, there is an elegantly dressed man standing in the doorway, asking for Mother. The man hands Mother a letter and leaves. Mother unties the ribbon and says it's from Lady Dunmore, the royal governor's wife, and the letter is an invitation for Felicity to attend a dancing lesson at the Governor's Palace on January 7 at four o'clock. Everyone is speechless and quiet at the news of the invitation, and they are all startled when they hear another knock at the door. Mother jokes she wouldn't be surprised if it was King George himself.
It turns out to be Elizabeth, who also has an invitation to the dancing lesson. Elizabeth is excited at the prospect of both she and Felicity attending the dancing lesson at the Palace. She says the lesson will have music and food and everyone will be wearing beautiful clothes, just like a ball. Elizabeth also mentions it was Miss Manderly who arranged for Felicity, Elizabeth, and Annabelle to receive invitations to the Palace, as she knew the dancing master who teaches the governor's children.
Felicity says she must be in a dream, and Mother tells her the cold will snap her out of it. Mother tells Felicity to put her shoes on, go to Father's store, and ask Father for permission to attend the lesson. Felicity asks Elizabeth if she will go with her to the store, but Elizabeth turns down the request as Mrs. Cole doesn't like the idea of Elizabeth being out in the cold for fear of catching a fever. As Felicity heads to the general store, she looks at how festive all the buildings look, with buildings trimmed in ivy, pine, and holly garlands. Christmastide is Felicity's favorite time of the year, and Felicity thinks this will be the most wonderful Christmas ever, having been invited to the Governor's Palace.
When Felicity reaches the general store, it is empty of customers but not yet closing time. Felicity remembers how Father decided to stop selling tea in his store to protest the King's tea tax, and the store is not as busy as it once was. Felicity calls out, and Ben greets her, thinking she's come for a whistling lesson. Felicity asks where Father is and Ben says he's in the counting room. Father comes out of the counting room and Felicity runs towards him, waving the invitation and telling him she, Elizabeth, and Annabelle have been invited to the Palace. Father takes the invitation and reads it by candlelight.
As Felicity asks for Father's permission and Father is about to answer, Ben interrupts and begins yelling at Felicity for even considering the idea of going to the Governor's Palace. Felicity says she's not angry at the governor; Ben says she should be, as Governor Dunmore represents the King in Virginia and both the governor and the king have treated the colonists badly. Ben warns Felicity if she were to go to the dance lesson, she would be surrounded by Loyalists, as well as the children of Loyalists who have stopped patronizing Father's store when he stopped selling tea. Ben tells Felicity she just can't go to the Palace.
All of Ben's words have made Felicity gloomy. She knows what Ben is saying, but she still wants to go to the dancing lesson. Felicity asks Father if it's wrong of her to go to the Palace, and Father looks Felicity in the eye, telling her he thinks it's wrong of adult arguments to affect the happiness of children. He thinks the Dunmores' invitation is a kind gesture, as the governor and his wife also have children of their own and would want them to be happy, especially at Christmas. He says Christmas is a time of friendliness, good spirit, and merriment, not anger.
Ben is surprised and asks Father if he thinks Felicity should go, and Father says Felicity should attend the dancing lesson, saying if children of Patriots and Loyalists can dance together, then adults can settle their differences without arguing and fighting one another. Felicity thanks Father, saying she was hoping he would give her permission to go. Father adds that Christmas is a time for peace and hope and happiness to come true. Felicity turns to Ben, thinking Father's words might have had an effect on him, but she sees disappointment in Ben's face. She tries to plead with him, saying it's Christmas, but Ben walks away, without a word.
Chapter Two: Sugar Cakes and Christmas Hopes
Felicity and Elizabeth are having a good time baking Shrewsbury cakes. Felicity mentions there are only five more days until Christmas, and after that, thirteen more days until they go to the Governor's Palace, which is a terribly long time to wait. Elizabeth agrees and says she thinks about the dance lesson all the time.
Felicity asks Elizabeth if she ever attended a formal dance lesson when she lived in England. Elizabeth says she's never attended a dance lesson as fancy as the one being held at the Palace, and mentions that she and Annabelle will ride to the Palace in a carriage, each escorted by a footman. Elizabeth then asks Felicity who will escort her, and Felicity replies she doesn't know, but most likely Father will escort her. Elizabeth then says Ben could escort Felicity and make Annabelle jealous, as Annabelle had tried many attempts at Ben to make him notice her.
Felicity responds sharply that Ben will not escort her to the Palace due to his anger at Governor Dunmore and Loyalists in general. Felicity mentions that Father thinks she should go to the dance lesson as the governor and his wife were kind to invite her, and that Christmas is a time when hope for peace and happiness should come true. Elizabeth is relieved that Felicity will be attending the lesson, saying if Felicity couldn't go, she wouldn't even like the lesson.
Later that afternoon, Felicity brings a basket of the Shrewsbury cakes she and Elizabeth had made to Miss Manderly's house, as a thank-you present for the dance invitations. Miss Manderly says the cakes are lovely and says the girls will do honor to their parents and herself. Elizabeth asks if they'll be presented to Governor and Lady Dunmore and Miss Manderly says perhaps. Annabelle snootily responds if they are introduced, the Dunmores will know who she and Elizabeth are, since they're acquainted with Mr. Cole. Felicity worries that the Dunmores will not like her as her family are Patriots.
Miss Manderly says the Dunmores will care more about the girls' manners than their names, and suggests they practice curtsying so they'll make a good impression should they be introduced. Felicity goes to stand with Elizabeth and Annabelle. Miss Manderly begins the practice, reminding them of the movements. She chides Annabelle not to stare, and Felicity not to sink so low that she'll wobble. Annabelle takes the moment to embarrass Felicity with some gossip about the dancing master, who is said to be very strict. The dancing master had struck two girls for making mistakes in a dance, and sharply scolded a young man for his improper behavior and manners.
Miss Manderly gently scolds Annabelle, and says all three girls will dance beautifully, especially if they practice between now and the day of the lesson. She sits down at the spinet and begins the dance practice. Felicity is worried, knowing she's not good at dancing. She feels she's even worse than usual, stepping on Elizabeth's toe, and worries what would happen if she stepped on the toe of one of the governor's sons. Felicity is so worried, she loses track of the dance entirely. Elizabeth tries to help by whispering the instructions, but it doesn't help Felicity. It seems like a long time before Miss Manderly ends the dance practice and dismisses the girls.
As Felicity and Elizabeth are walking home, Felicity says she was so excited about the invitation to the Palace she forgot it was for a dance lesson. If the invitation had been for a foot or horse race, Felicity would do well, but she's terrible at dancing. Elizabeth reassures Felicity, telling her Annabelle made her nervous with gossip about the dancing master and that Felicity will do fine at the Palace. Felicity becomes desperate, telling Elizabeth that while she wants to go the dance lesson more than anything, she's afraid she'll look like a fool. Elizabeth tries to calm Felicity, telling her she'll look beautiful, she'll curtsy perfectly, charming the Dunmores. Even her dance and dress will be perfect, and everyone will wonder who could that graceful and elegant young lady be.
Elizabeth then asks Felicity what she'll wear to the Palace. Felicity had not given much thought and says she might wear her brown silk gown, her Sunday best. Elizabeth thinks about it, saying it's a fine gown and that Felicity will be comfortable in it, as it's not overly fancy or new. Felicity asks Elizabeth if she'll have a new gown, and Elizabeth says no. Her dance lesson dress is a hand-me-down from Annabelle, and Mrs. Cole is making a new stomacher, trimmed with new lace. Felicity says it sounds most elegant.
Elizabeth changes the topic, saying how her mother and Annabelle fuss over Lady Dunmore's clothing, as she's considered the most fashionable lady in the colonies. Elizabeth tries to make Felicity think she doesn't care about how clothes are so terribly important as to constantly fuss over them. Felicity doesn't buy Elizabeth's opinion, but think Elizabeth is right. Felicity says if she had a beautiful new gown she wouldn't be nervous, she would dance well, and everything would be perfect.
Elizabeth asks if Mother will make a new gown if Felicity asks, and Felicity sadly says no. Mother is busy getting ready for Christmas, and she and Father have been worried about money since business at Father's store has slowed down. Elizabeth says Felicity should just ask, and reminding her what Father had told her about hopes coming true for Christmastide. Felicity says perhaps. She had thought asking for a new gown would be selfish, but cannot help hoping for one.
Chapter Three: Tidings of Comfort and Joy
The next morning, Mother asks Felicity to accompany her to the apothecary for medicine to treat her cough. Mother adds they could stop by the milliner on the way home for some trim or lace to spruce up Felicity's brown silk gown for the dance lesson. Felicity tries to sound pleased at the idea, but thinks even with new trim or lace she'll still look like a little brown field mouse. Felicity follows Mother from shop to shop. She thinks solely about asking for a gown, paying little attention to Mother and the apothecary's conversation.
The apothecary, Mr. Galt, is concerned that Mother's cough has persisted for weeks. He gives Mother garlic syrup and some licorice lozenges, and tells her she must rest. Mother thanks Mr. Galt, but tells him she'll have plenty of time to rest after Christmas as it's such a happy, busy time. Mr. Galt is worried Mother's cough will become more serious if she doesn't take care of herself, as it's very cold outside. Mother agrees, saying the cold weather cuts right to her bones. She says goodbye to Mr. Galt, wishing him the joy of the season, and she and Felicity leave the apothecary.
The two hurry over to the milliner's shop. Felicity is normally not interested in all the fine things the milliner sells, such as feathers, fans, bonnets, fancy shoes, purses, laces, and trims. However, Felicity studies the goods, thinking there might be something to make her brown gown beautiful, maybe even something magical.
Felicity then sees a doll standing on a shelf, holding a bouquet of silk flowers. Felicity stares at the doll, feeling compelled by the doll's expression. The doll's gown is made of blue silk, bluer than the sky or the sea, as if lighting up the shop. The neck and sleeves of the doll's gown are trimmed with white lace as delicate as snowflakes, and Felicity thinks it's the most beautiful gown she's ever seen. Felicity begins to daydream, thinking if only she could go to the Palace in a gown as fine as the doll's gown.
Felicity is surprised when she feels Mother's hand on her shoulder and see her staring at the doll as well. Felicity sighs, saying how perfect the doll's gown is, and Mother agrees. Mother is surprised at Felicity's interest in the gown, and Felicity says she had never been invited to the Palace and didn't think she'd need a beautiful gown. Mother understands where Felicity is coming from.
The milliner takes the doll out of the case and hands it to Felicity. She smiles and says she made the gown herself, having copied the pattern from a gown Lady Dunmore had worn for church, as it's the latest style from England. The milliner holds the doll's gown to Felicity's cheek, and remarks to Mother the blue silk would look lovely with Felicity's red hair. Mother agrees, but as she's about to say something, the milliner interrupts. She has a bolt of blue silk and a lady-sized pattern for the gown. It would only take a bit of minor adjusting to make the pattern fit Felicity. Felicity looks at Mother longingly, and Mother gives in, saying Felicity will have the beautiful blue gown and that she'll make it for her. Felicity thanks Mother and hugs the doll. Mother adds Father will say she's being foolish, but it is Christmas and it's the first gown Felicity has ever wanted. Mother says they'll show everyone in Williamsburg how proud they are of Felicity, and she'll look as fashionable as Lady Dunmore herself.
The milliner wraps the blue silk into a tidy parcel, and tells Mother that she'll be happy to help her with any trouble, especially with the finish work. Mother becomes a bit worried, and Felicity suggests she'll help, or at least try. Mother gives Felicity the parcel, and says they'll both try, and the gown will be lovely. Felicity holds the parcel close to her chest, thinking about how she'll have the most wonderful gown in the world because she has the most wonderful mother in the world.
Later that evening, Mother begins making Felicity's gown. Felicity watches with concern, observing Mother cutting the blue silk into pieces. She wonders nervously if the odd-shaped silk pieces will form together into a gown, and Mother says she hopes so, but she herself is a bit nervous. As Mother pins the pieces together, Felicity can see the sleeves, waist, and neckline taking shape.
The next morning, Mother begins sewing the pieces together. Felicity helps, threading the needle and handing pins to Mother as she needs them. Felicity and Nan stand behind Mother's chair, watching her work. Mother tells the girls they're making her uncomfortable with their staring, and suggests they go play with the ark with William. Felicity brings down the ark from a high shelf, and the three children sit around Mother's feet, playing with the animals. Felicity checks on Mother's progress every now and then, asking why she has to sew so slowly and make such small stitches. Mother chides Felicity, telling her haste makes waste and if she wants the gown to be perfect, she has to be patient. Felicity finds it hard to be patient, especially since Christmas is only three days away and the dance lesson still thirteen days away.
As the days pass by, Felicity tries her hardest to be patient, standing still for hours during Mother's gown fitting sessions. Felicity finds it uncomfortable standing still, but doesn't complain. Felicity tries to help out with household chores so Mother will have more time to work on the gown, playing with William, reading with Nan, helping Rose with the cooking.
As it's the holiday season, friends and visitor come to call every afternoon at the Merriman house. Normally Felicity would have enjoyed all the holiday festivities, passing special Christmas cakes and listing to chatter from the guests. This year, however, Felicity is impatient for guests to leave, thinking the time the guests spent chattering with Mother is being wasted. Christmas Eve afternoon is even worse, with a steady stream of guests. When the last guests leave, Felicity sighs with relief and says Mother can finally work on her gown. However, Mother looks tired and coughs. She tells Felicity not to nag her and that she has a lot of work for Christmas. Mother tells Felicity to run along.
Felicity takes up Mother's words and pays a visit to Elizabeth's house. The two girls go to see the pretty doll at the milliner's shop and study the doll's gown. Elizabeth assures Felicity that her dress will look like the doll's gown and Felicity hopes so. Mother still has a lot of work to do on Felicity's gown, and Elizabeth says her gown will be finished on time. Felicity feels happier looking at the doll.
When Felicity returns home, she goes to her room upstairs and takes the unfinished gown out of her clothes press. As she's holding the gown, Ben comes in and scoffs at Felicity. He yells at her, calling her a selfish, foolish girl thinking only of dancing at the Palace. Ben continues on, telling Felicity she doesn't know what's important anymore and too busy dreaming to care even if Penny came back. Felicity says that's not true and Ben argues he think it is, and leaves.
Felicity is unable to sleep that night, thinking about what Ben said. She knows she still loves Penny, but also wants to love dancing and gowns as well. Felicity hears some rustling downstairs, and leaves her bedroom. She finds Mother in the parlor, working on the gown by a single candle, and wonders why she's working at the moment, as it's cold and the fire is dying. Mother coughs and says she was busy with guests all afternoon and had to finish decorating. As a result, she didn't have the time to work on Felicity's gown. Mother mentions tomorrow is Christmas.
Felicity looks around the parlor, seeing all the decorations Mother had put up. She thinks it looks beautiful and that Mother makes everything beautiful. Mother smiles and says the greenery helps keep her spirits up, and tells Felicity to go back to bed as tomorrow will be a busy day.
Christmas Day is a noisy day, with cannons roaring and guns firing to mark the special occasion. People call out merry greetings as the Merrimans attend church. Felicity enjoys the services and songs, and smiles to herself as the minister reads the words of the Christmas story. Felicity reaffirms herself that Father was right. Christmas is a time of joy for everyone.
Back at the Merriman household, Mother and Rose have prepared a tremendous Christmas feast. Mother sits at the head of the table, serving food and even giving Ben three pieces of mince pie. Father tells Mother to rest, as she hasn't had anything to eat. Mother doesn't say anything and hands around a plate of dates and figs to finish off the meal.
Felicity goes to bed full of food and happiness. She listens to carolers outside her window singing God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen, and Felicity thinks there had never been a finer Christmas. She thinks now that Christmas is over, Mother will have time to finish the blue gown.
Chapter Four: Gloom and Shadows
Felicity wakes up the next morning and finds things a bit too quiet, especially after all the festivities from yesterday. She finds breakfast odd as Mother is not present. Father says Mother is overtired from making Christmas merry for everyone and needs to rest.
It starts to rain outside, and the day passes slowly. Felicity tries to remember when Mother had stayed in bed all day. She peeks into Mother's room several times throughout the day, and tries to reassure that Mother will get better tomorrow and work on the blue gown. The dance lesson is now only twelve days away.
Mother does not get well the next day, or the day after. She becomes ill, hovering between burning with fever and shivering with chills. Mr. Galt comes to see Mother, and when he walks out of her room, he's very concerned. Mr. Galt informs Father that Mother is very ill and worn down to the point she has no strength to fight the fever, even struggling to breathe. Father asks if there's anything that could be done, and Mr. Galt says someone has to be with Mother at all times, day and night, keeping the fire in her room bright and warm and giving her water or broth. Mr. Galt will leave medicine for the Merrimans to give to Mother. Father asks how long will Mother be ill and if there's anything more that could be done to help her. Mr. Galt says all they can do is hope, pray, and wait.
Felicity's life changes from that moment. There are no visitors calling at her house. Felicity doesn't attend Miss Manderly's lessons, or visit Elizabeth's house, or even the milliner's shop to look at the doll. Felicity, Father, and Rose take turns sitting by Mother's bedside for hours at end and attending to her needs. Felicity no longer thinks about the dance lesson or her gown. The only thing she wants is Mother to get well.
On New Year's Day, she wishes Mother a Happy New Year. Mother doesn't respond. Felicity wishes she could make Mother well. When she leaves Mother's room, she finds Father waiting for her. Father says Felicity's been a great help caring for Mother and he has a New Year's Day present for her. He gives Felicity a lumpy paper package and tells her to open it. Felicity tears the paper off and finds it's the doll she had seen at the milliner's shop. Seeing the doll makes her sad and reminds her of all the things she's been missing out on. Felicity knows Father gave her the doll out of love and can't bear to let him see how unhappy she is. She smiles as much as she can and hugs Father, thanking him. Father looks pleased and tells Felicity to run along and take a rest, as he'll watch over Mother. Felicity thanks Father again and heads to her bedroom.
Felicity sits on her bed and looks at the doll, thinking how silly and foolish she had become. Felicity hides the doll under the counterpane, not wanting to see it anymore. Elizabeth comes in, with a present for Felicity: a blue silk cord to wear for the dance lesson. Felicity doesn't respond as she takes the cord from Elizabeth, and Elizabeth becomes concerned. Felicity says she can't go to the dance lesson as her gown's not finished, and even if it were, she wouldn't go. Father needs Felicity to look after Mother, and Felicity doesn't feel like dancing when Mother is so ill.
Elizabeth says Felicity has to go to the lesson, Mother would want her to. Felicity says she doesn't want to go anymore, and there's nothing that can be done. She pulls the doll out of the counterpane, and Elizabeth recognizes the doll from the milliner's shop. Felicity tells Elizabeth to take the doll as it's a sad reminder to all the hopes Felicity had. Elizabeth agrees to take the doll for a while and tells Felicity she won't let her forget her hopes. Felicity says the only hope she has now is that Mother will get well. As the days and nights pass, it continues to rain outside. Felicity is glad the doll is gone, as she doesn't want to think about the dance lesson or her gown. Seeing either item would only make her unhappy.
Mother continues to be ill. Felicity plays with Nan and William when she's not caring for Mother. Felicity finds it hard to keep her younger siblings amused while it continues to rain outside, but they never tire of playing with the ark. Felicity remarks it feels like it's been raining for forty days and forty nights, like in Noah's story.
Nan asks Felicity about the animals and people Noah couldn't fit in his ark. Felicity answers that as the earth was covered in water, the other animals probably drowned. William asks what it means to be drowned, and Nan says it's when someone covered in water and can't breathe, and ends up dying, going to heaven and never coming back.
William asks Felicity if Mother is going to die and never come back, and Felicity says no. She holds William in her lap and tells him Mother will get better soon and everything will be fine. She mentions that when the rain stopped, Noah sent out a bird and the bird came back with a sprig of leaves in its mouth, so Noah knew there was land somewhere. Felicity breaks off a holly leaf from a garland and gives it to William, saying the leaf gave Noah hope. Felicity sees that Nan and William need her to be brave, and tells William to put the leaf in the ark, so their Noah will be happy. Felicity looks around the parlor and finds that the decorations are growing dry and brown. She suggests they pull down the dying decorations and make new ones, fresh and green. They'll make New Year's magic for Mother when she wakes up, and the three children begin to redecorate the parlor.
Chapter Five: A Season For Surprises
Felicity heads home, after a long afternoon of errands, including a stop at the apothecary for more medicine. Her petticoat gets splashed with slush from a nearby carriage heading to the Palace. Felicity suddenly remembers it's January 7, the day of the dance lesson. Felicity continues on her way home, cold and wet and miserable.
As Felicity hangs up her cloak and takes off her muddy shoes, Father beckons Felicity to the parlor. Felicity looks behind him and sees Mother sitting in a big chair by the fire, surrounded by pillows and blankets. Mother smiles and opens her arms to Felicity, and Felicity runs to her, hugging her. Felicity is glad Mother is out of bed. Father says the fever is gone and Mother's getting better, but she is still weak.
Mother says Felicity's taken good care of her, and Nan and William as well. She adds that the parlor looks beautiful with all the fresh greenery the children had put up, and suggests everyone should have a cup of chocolate to celebrate. Felicity offers to help make the chocolate. Mother tells Felicity to go and change her clothes as she's still very wet and they can't have her falling sick. Felicity hugs Mother once more, and heads upstairs, happy that Mother has gotten better and she'll be alright.
When Felicity enters her room, she finds the blue gown on her bed, perfectly finished. Felicity can't believe her eyes, and touches the gown to make sure it's real. She wonders how the gown was finished and who finished it, but when she sees her doll sitting against the pillow, Felicity realizes Elizabeth may have finished the gown for her.
Felicity picks up the gown carefully and hurries back down to the parlor. Mother gasps when she sees the gown and asks Felicity if she had finished it, and Felicity says Elizabeth may have finished it for her. Both Felicity and Mother agree it's the prettiest gown they've ever seen. Father is sad Felicity won't be able to show it off at the Palace as Rose isn't at the Merriman household and he needs to stay with Mother. There's no one to escort Felicity to the Palace, and Felicity knows it.
As the household grows quiet with sadness, Ben offers to escort Felicity. Father praises Ben, and tells Felicity to hurry and get ready, as it's almost four o'clock. Ben goes to get the riding chair ready, and Mother tells Father to get a bathing tub and hot water as Felicity must have a bath. Mother tells William to get her best soap and Nan to get a hairbrush to prepare Felicity for the ball.
The gown fits perfectly on Felicity and she ties the blue cord around her neck. Mother studies Felicity and tells Nan to get one of her best pearl earrings. She fastens the earring onto the cord and tells Felicity she looks perfect. Felicity gives Mother one last hug, then grabs her cloak and rushes outside to meet Ben. The weather is still terrible and the road conditions are hazardous, but Ben manages to make it to the Palace in time.
Felicity holds tight to Ben's hand as he helps her down from the riding chair, and feels rather small looking up at the tall iron gates of the Palace. This time the gates are wide open and lanterns lighting the path to the Palace doors. Felicity thanks Ben, and she is shown to the Palace entry hall by a footman. Another footman takes her cloak.
Felicity walks the length of the ballroom to an elegantly dressed lady and gentleman standing under the portraits of the King and Queen. Felicity realizes they're Governor and Lady Dunmore, and curtsies to them, introducing herself. Lady Dunmore tells Felicity they are glad she's come to join the other young people and that the dance lesson is about to begin. As Felicity looks around, she realizes she's never been in such a large room in her life, lit with dozens of candles in chandeliers. She wishes Mother could see all this finery. The ballroom is full of young men dressed in bright silk breeches and coats decorated with gold braid and buttons, and young ladies in various fabrics of every color. Felicity thinks her gown is the loveliest still.
Felicity catches sight of Elizabeth and hurries towards her. However, the music begins, and Felicity finds herself in a set of dancers. Neither Felicity or Elizabeth get a chance to talk. As the dancing master calls out the dances, Felicity pays close attention so she won't make any mistakes. As the lesson goes on, Felicity becomes more at ease with dancing. She makes no mistakes, and even finds dancing fun.
When the dances are over, everyone's invited for refreshments at the supper room. Felicity's never seen such elegant food, and finds it too beautiful to eat. Felicity's too excited to be hungry, and can't wait to talk to Elizabeth. She calls out Elizabeth's name and asks how she finished the blue gown. Elizabeth explains Mrs. Cole helped out with the hardest parts, but she and even Annabelle helped. Felicity asks how she could thank the Coles, and tells Elizabeth she had kept hoping even after Felicity had given up. Felicity says she's never had a better friend than her.
Elizabeth mentions Felicity has another good friend, Ben. He had snuck the gown out of Felicity's house and back in again. Felicity is surprised, as Ben thought the gown was foolish and that it was wrong of Felicity to come to the Palace. She wonders how Elizabeth changed Ben's mind, and Elizabeth says she simply asked Ben to help, but didn't ask Ben to be Felicity's escort. When the dance lesson is over, the girls say their thank-yous and their good-nights.
Ben is waiting for Felicity outside the Palace, and the two of them ride in silence for a while. Felicity says it was kind of him to help Elizabeth and to escort her to the Palace, and what made him change his mind. Ben says it was Felicity herself who changed his mind. He had watched her take care of Mother and her younger siblings, and began to think Father was right about Christmas. Ben wanted Felicity's hopes to come true. Felicity thanks Ben, and the two of them ride home together.
Looking Back: Christmas in 1774
Discusses the Christmas season in Virginia during colonial times. Topics covered:
- Festivities beginning several days before Christmas and would last for three weeks, during which people would gather together for feasts, talks, hunting and parties.
- Christmas celebrations being mostly for adults and children, and the types of gifts handed out to children, servants and slaves on New Year's Day.
- The custom of "shooting in the Christmas", in which colonists would shoot their muskets in the air to greet Christmas Day.
- The most important aspect of Christmas Day being the church service, and the foods that would have been served afterwards during the feast.
- Holiday meals serving as opportunities for colonists to showcase the beauty and ordered they highly valued through their dishes,
- Virginian colonists continuing on the English tradition of the yule log, in which giant logs would be burned within hearths throughout the holiday season.
- The end of Christmastide being twelve days after Christmas and the custom of having a party on this day, known as "Twelfth Night".
- Colonists in New England believing the holiness of Christmas should be honored, thus why they would have no parties or feasting.
Items associated with Felicity's Surprise
- Further historical clothing research has shown that, as explained in this video of a historical recreation of the Christmas gown by clothing historian The Couture Courtesan (timestamped), neither Martha Merriman nor Mrs. Cole would have had the skills to put the dress together herself at home, as fitted dressmaking was a trained skill with apprenticeships. She also would not have had a paper pattern to ask the dressmaker to slim down to Felicity's size as they were not available at the time; widespread paper patterns were not available until around the 1860s, and dressmakers of such skill would have instead to opt towards fold and cut methods to shape the dress. Furthermore, pinner caps are more accurate to the 1750s and would have been out of fashion by the 1770s; historically, Felicity would have more likely worn a lightweight or sheer round eared cap.