The ball was in full swing now though it had not started so long ago as to nearly be over and done. Music played softly from an orchestra that no one was paying any real attention to at the moment, they were merely props to the brightly lit stage. Candlelight flickered from all over, illuminating the beautiful fresco above the ballroom. Women in fancy dresses twirled gracefully across the floor with light steps while others stood in groups and hid their faces with ornate fans. This ball was one of many large gatherings and rich men and women were drawn to the finery and the facade to escape the problems that they faced when the dance was over.
As a lithesome figure cut her way through several of these groupings, whispered began to stir up at her heels like clouds of dust but instead of dissipating they seemed to grow behind her. Her loose brown curls flowed down her back in a daring style that opposed the hair of the other women, which was drawn up and away from their shoulders. It was hardly the hair that caused their whispering, though there were some that felt the need to pick apart every detail of hers that did not befit a proper lady. In truth, the hairstyle was no meant to cause alarm but rather because she could not afford to have someone form the detailed and delicate hairstyles that the other women sported. Still, there was a confidence to her.
It was this silent confidence and the icy demeanor with which she held herself that really seemed to captivate them, however. She was a lovely form to behold and many a man watched her retreating form with curious eyes. Jealous women hissed to them her name and it became apparent to all in the room why the beauty was making her debut here and now so aggressively. She was none other than a nobleman's daughter whose family had fallen upon economic hardship. The eyes of the men lingered on her but none approached. She was looking for a wealthy suitor who might support her family in this rough patch and the men were shying away from this burden despite her fair features.
Preparing to draw her fan and consider the night a failure, Alexandrina paused at one end of the ball room, as far from the whispers as she could possibly get. She had come prepared for the whispering campaign and the attempts to drag her and her father's name into the mud. The chill of her attitude had been practiced to form a barrier between them and herself, her emotions frozen behind the ice she presented as a facade. She thought that she had reached a safe place, away from the other guests at the ball, but her assumption was only mostly correct.
"There's a hole in your slipper" one of the women pointed out smugly, a slow smile spreading across her lips. Cutting Alexandrina down served only to benefit her. There were few women present who could compare with the ice queen's beauty but it was no secret that she was looking to make a rich match. All who knew her mother knew that the woman would practically sell her eldest daughter to the highest bidder, even Alexandrina herself. The women wanted her out of the way so that the eyes would not stray to the secluded corner where the pauper princess stood.
Working to maintain her composure, Alexandrina gave the other woman a half curtsey and turned her back, walking as fast as she could toward the doors that led out onto the balcony. It was as if she had stepped into a nest of vipers in that room and, on the verge of tears, she had little desire to go back in no matter what her mother wanted of her.