"So what would you like to discuss?"
"It should come as no surprise that I am quite fond of your sister, Georgiana. My intention was to make it official upon my return; however, I had not anticipated the publicity surrounding our research. I believe it would be best to let the hoopla abate before I make an offer to Georgiana."
"Dr. Beartholomew, you are a fine fellow indeed! I agree wholeheartedly!"
"Well then, it's settled. Perhaps by late summer we can speak of this in more detail. Until then, let us keep this between us. I would hate for that nosey Harietta to learn of it!"
Shaking paws they bid adieu.
Steerforth returned to Bearton, a huge weight lifted from his fuzzy shoulders.
Georgiana was reading in the parlor when Hobbs entered with a tray of tea and the latest edition of The Bearton Times.
"Thank you Hobbs, I could use a spot of tea," she said jovially.
"Will there be anything else?"
"No, thank you."
Hobbs left the room as Georgiana placed the book upon the table and opened the paper to her favorite section, The Society Bear. The headline took the breath from her stuffing.
"Oh my!" she exclaimed. The ball was only two days away and she could never have expected this news in her furriest dreams. With fur a flutter she hurried to her room to scratch a note to Carlotta about her dress.
The significance of the evening had intensified being the news was already reporting what she felt certain would be an offer from Dr. Beartholomew.
Steerforth arrived home to find the parlor in a state of disarray.
As he pulled the bell to summon Hobbs something on the floor below caught his eye. Leaning over to inspect it he was startled when Hobbs stealthily entered the room.
"Hobbs you scared the stuffing out of me!"
"My apologies sir. Miss Carlotta has arrived with Georgiana's dress. I took the liberty of sending her upstairs. I came to inform Miss Georgiana."
"She was not here when I arrived but she may have retired to her room."
"Very good sir. Do you need anything else?"
"No, Hobbs. Thank you."
UP IN GEORGIANA'S ROOM...
A soft rapping at the door caught Georgiana's attention. Resting the pen in the inkwell she opened the door. Much to her surprise Carlotta stood before her holding an elegant gown.
"Carlotta, I was just writing you a note. Please come in."
Noticing the gown draped across Carlotta's arm she queried,
"Is that my gown?"
"Yes, and I believe it is my greatest creation to date."
Carlotta helped her dress and the two stood before the mirror and admired the beauty of the gown.
"Carlotta, you have outdone yourself! It's stunning!"
BACK IN THE PARLOR...
While Georgiana and Carlotta admired the dress Steerforth sat in the parlor, having forgotten the object on the floor, and opened the paper.
"The Society Bear, what a bunch of fluff," he mumbled when the headline caught his eye. Reading on, the latest article by Harietta Rabbit astonished him.
"Now what is she up to?" he whispered before realizing the state of the room when he arrived. "Oh no, Georgiana must have read this! What must she be thinking?"
Before he could go upstairs to speak with her about it she appeared in the parlor and her expression said everything.
Sporting a deep blue taffeta gown with beaded trim her eyes sparkled as brightly as the beads in the lamplight.
"What do you think?"
Carlotta stood behind her an expression of satisfaction on her fuzzy snout.
"It's lovely. Miss Carlotta you have outdone yourself."
"Thank you sir."
Troubled, Steerforth thought feverishly as to the best approach to the delicate subject matter that was no doubt tumbling around in Georgiana's furry head.
"Carlotta, could you give us a moment?"
Leaving the room, concern enveloped her heart. Surely he was not dissatisfied. As she wandered down the hall something near the bell pull caught her eye...
BACK IN THE PARLOR...
Noticing the newspaper in Steerforth's lap Georgiana spoke,
"I see you have read the good news."
"Georgiana, there is something we need to discuss before you say another word. Won't you please sit down?"
The taffeta rustled like autumn leaves as she glided across the room and perched precariously on the edge of the chair, careful not to wrinkle the dress.
Quieting herself Georgiana listened intently.
"My dear sister, I have been to see Dr. Beartholomew this afternoon."
She could hardly contain herself but continued listening.
"It has come to my attention that Harietta Rabbit has been up to her usual antics reporting inaccurate information. Furthermore, I fear you may have misunderstood what has been reported.
Georgiana's white fur seemed to pale at his last statement.
"There will be a guest of honor at the ball, Dr. Bearpaws. She is a specialist in the study of the blue bear and worked closely with Dr. Beartholomew during his sabbatical. Due to the significance of their research there will be a lot of publicity. For this reason he has asked that we remain supportive of his work and allow the hullabaloo to run its course before we resume our friendship publicly.
With baited breath he awaited her response to the news which was undoubtedly disappointing for her. He was certain her heart was breaking.
However, he could not have predicted what happened next...