When they alighted in front of one of the most famed and well established clothing establishments in London, Elizabeth felt overwhelmed again. Mark guided her inside with ill concealed amusement.
The tailor who met with them after a short wait was officious, and plump. After hearing what Mark wanted, a dress suitable for a wedding within a week, and at least two more dresses suitable for his Marchioness within the next couple of days, the tailor refused. It was impossible to create the quality being requested in such a short time he said.
Mark frowned, "I was hoping that perhaps you would have something in progress that could be replaced." Elizabeth stared at Mark incredulously.
"No," said the tailor.
"Perhaps another establishment," Mark suggested to Elizabeth.
"Mark," she said, "what you're asking is likely impossible for any shop." He directed his frown toward her. She waved her hand toward herself, "I'm nearly as tall as you are," she said by way of explanation.
"I'm not over tall," he said dryly.
"For a man!" she exclaimed. "You are not short either!" She saw that he didn't understand the implication, and explained, "There isn't likely to be any shop with something on hand that could be cut down."
The tailor nodded.
"Ah," said Mark, to the tailor "then, what is the quickest time frame, or best compromise you can offer?"
The tailor offered perhaps one gown every two or three days, if the fittings went well, and the decorations were kept minimal. A week apiece for gowns matching Lord Waverly's original descriptions.
Mark and Elizabeth agreed on two minimal and one more decorated gown. Mark added that if the first three gowns were suitable, he expected to order a dozen or so more within the next month or so.
A seamstress was summoned, and the tailor said, "This is Jeanette, my best dressmaker, she will work with you on the designs for gowns, I will handle any pelisse or riding habit designs myself."
Mark told the seamstress, "I want gowns suitable for my Marchioness, not for the Lord Justice's fifth daughter," he added looking into Elizabeth's eyes, "and other than that, please let Elizabeth have her way on colors and decorations," he finished. To Elizabeth he said, "I will leave you here to select the designs, and you may choose the designs for three more, to be started after the first three are finished and approved." And once again to the seamstress, "When should I return for her do you think?"
The seamstress decided not less than three hours, and likely as many as six.
Elizabeth clung to his hand, and Mark hesitated, recalling that Elizabeth hadn't even eaten breakfast. "Can you make sure to give her rest breaks and offer refreshments?" he asked.
He was assured that this was a matter of course for their clients with long measuring and fitting sessions. So he bid Elizabeth farewell and promised to return to check on her progress within three hours, and set off for the church he very irregularly attended.
Elizabeth faced the seamstress uncertainly, and was peremptorily directed into a fitting room, and unceremoniously stripped. The woolen shift she was borrowing was greeted with a mild show of horror and threatened with burning, until Elizabeth explained that it was borrowed, and she'd like to be able to return it please.
Jeanette suggested that it be replaced with a silk chemise as soon as possible, and Elizabeth's measurements were thoroughly taken. When asked to describe her current wardrobe, Elizabeth described all but the two dresses she'd sold, and then hesitated, guiltily. Jeanette, knowing it was unusual for a man to bring his bride in for what promised to be a whole wardrobe, at least before the marriage, promised discretion, and coaxed her kindly into revealing that for the next couple of weeks, her wardrobe currently consisted of what she'd been wearing.
"You've eloped then?" the amused seamstress asked her.
"More like, we are in the process of eloping, I think," replied Elizabeth.
Jeanette sniffed, "I wish a man who wanted to replace my entire wardrobe with clothes of this quality wanted to elope with me!"
They both laughed, and after that Elizabeth was more at ease, and a number of gown designs were discussed.
Jeanette brought out a number of fashion plates, and a sketchbook of designs of her own. Elizabeth was pressed firmly into selecting a morning gown design for the wedding dress that she would never have chosen on her own. At least never with such a long hemline, for all of her existing gowns were practical things, and except for her riding habit, none of them would have brushed the floor. Jeanette insisted that this was the fashionable mode, and could be expected to be worn all season. She suggested a pretty, and otherwise unembellished white worked muslin design, that would take most of the allowed week to be finished.
Another morning gown, and an evening gown were selected to be made up first, as the plainer designs. In order to have them done more quickly but still meet the Marques demands for suitability, fancier materials were chosen. A soft pattern woven cream muslin for the second morning gown, and a pretty green silk brocade for the evening gown. A walking gown, a velvet pelisse, and a second evening gown were selected as the next three to be made up.
Silk chemises were also added, as part of the first two dress orders. And Elizabeth was asked if she wished to acquire matching stockings, gloves and hats on her own, or if Jeanette should acquire them for her.
Elizabeth was weary, despite being allowed to sit and sip tea and nibble scones for much of the design process. And Mark was late. Jeanette had had a silk chemise made up by her assistants during the designing, so Elizabeth stood awhile more to have it fitted. When that was done, she found Mark's coach was waiting before the shop, but Mark had not returned with it.
Lord Waverly had been called up to the palace this evening the driver explained, apologizing for their late arrival at the shop door, and explaining that the coach was at her service for the rest of the evening.
Jeanette bid her to return late the next afternoon for a fitting on the first gown. So, with the afternoon sun turning gold, Elizabeth told the driver she was ready to return, and climbed into the waiting coach. She wondered if it was normal for a Marques to be summoned to the palace, or if she ought to be worried.
When she wearily mounted the steps of Mark's, and she supposed now her own home, she was startled to have the door opened by Devons even before she reached it. "Heard the coach," Devons explained soothingly, when he saw her jump. "Welcome home my Lady," he added with a smile.
"The driver told me Lord Waverly was summoned to the palace?" Elizabeth inquired diffidently.
"Indeed, he and Andrew went almost as soon as he'd returned this afternoon, he only delayed to arrange to have the coach sent for you," Devons answered.
"Is it unusual for Lord Waverly to be summoned?" she asked worriedly.
Devons hesitated, "I don't think it's a matter for alarm," he began, "but no it's not usual, though it has happened before. My Lord is an acquaintance of the Prince," he added.
"I see," Elizabeth replied uncertainly, not sure that she did see.
Devons encouraged his new Lady to eat a light meal, and then she retreated to Mark's study, and curled up on one of the chairs with a book on glass works that she'd pulled from the shelf behind his desk nearly at random. She found it odd reading, but curiously interesting, the making of glass was not a subject she'd taken any particular interest in before.
Mark returned late in the evening to find his young bride curled up asleep around the book, looking very young indeed. And too pale and tired, he thought. He woke her gently, and led her up to bed.