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Some Live, Some Die

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1925. Eighteen-year-old Leslie Beckford, the adopted daughter of Aristo Beckford finally makes her society debut at the annual Queen Charlotte's Ball. However, despite her beauty, selflessness and intelligence, society does not take her too kindly because of her background prior to getting adopted. Her life takes a drastic turn when she and her family are invited to a soiree hosted by, Mr. Hange Hurston, a party host known for hosting extravagant parties...

Mystery / Romance
Shawn Kwan
4.5 4 rese帽as
Clasificaci贸n por edades:

Society Debut

May 19th, 1925

Eighteen-year-old Leslie Beckford, the adopted daughter of Aristo Beckford sat in the back of the Hispano-Suiza with her father. They were on their way to Buckingham Palace to attend the Queen Charlotte鈥檚 Ball. Leslie was old enough to know that the evening after the ball, she would be expected to participate in social gatherings and eventually find herself a husband.

鈥淎re you nervous, Leslie?鈥 asked Mr. Beckford.

鈥淎 little鈥︹ replied Leslie as she entwined her gloved fingers on her lap, 鈥淚鈥檓 just a little worried about what society will think of me...鈥

鈥淟eslie,鈥 said Mr. Beckford as he placed his hand on top of hers. 鈥淏lood-related or not, you are my daughter no matter what.鈥

Leslie felt some weight being lifted off her shoulders when she heard this. She remembered the time when she first met Mr. Beckford at the orphanage fourteen years ago. The moment they met, he rushed up to embrace her as though he had just found his long lost child.

His wife, Margaret Beckford, also took an instant liking to Leslie. Like her husband, she also treated her like her own daughter. She had suffered a miscarriage due to her frail health and was advised to refrain from trying to have another child.

Sadly, Mrs. Beckford eventually succumbed to her illness and passed away when Leslie was six. Mr. Beckford did not remarry afterwards. While he had raised her un-spoilt, Leslie began to notice how sad her father would sometimes look whenever he saw her when she became a teenager. Very recently, Mr. Beckford鈥檚 friends had started remarking on how her eyes were very similar to his. This in turn, had stirred up endless gossip about how she could be in fact, his illegitimate daughter.

鈥淵ou look beautiful tonight,鈥 Mr. Beckford then spoke. 鈥淏ut most importantly,鈥 he added. 鈥淵ou do not need to be pressured to find a suitor. All you need to do is to enjoy the party and make friends.鈥

New friends, huh? Thought Leslie to herself. This caused her to recall an unpleasant memory where she experienced betrayal with someone she thought would be her friend for life. Could she really make new friends?

鈥淲e have arrived!鈥 exclaimed Mr. Beckford when the Hispano-Suiza pulled through the main gates.

Leslie glanced out of the window, and her emerald-coloured eyes widened in amazement at the sight of Buckingham Palace鈥檚 grand entrance. The Hispano-Suiza pulled up at the entrance and a chauffeur opened the door, allowing them to climb out. Mr. Beckford stepped out first, then extended his hand to Leslie whom he helped out of the car.

He handed his invitation to the host who permitted them both entry into the palace. Leslie gazed around in admiration as she took her father鈥檚 arm, allowing him to escort her inside. She was excited to finally be granted her social freedom; and to be able to experience the joy of music and dancing.

Arriving in the ballroom, Leslie and her father greeted the host and hostess, King George V and his wife, Princess Mary of Teck. The ballroom was lively with the orchestra, the men and women dancing, and the champagne tower. While her father went to greet his acquaintances, Leslie went for a wander.

鈥淲hy, if it isn鈥檛 Miss Leslie Beckford!鈥 exclaimed a familiar voice that pierced Leslie鈥檚 ears.

Leslie found herself face-to-face with the last face she would have liked to see. Jezebel Doncaster. She was her former childhood friend whom she had fallen out with four years ago. Since that incident, they had never spoken to one another ever again.

鈥淚t has been a while, Miss Doncaster,鈥 replied Leslie, hiding her resentment. 鈥淵ou look well.鈥

鈥淲on鈥檛 you call me Jez like before?鈥 whined Jezebel, 鈥淧lease don鈥檛 tell me you鈥檙e still harbouring a grudge over some petty idle talk.鈥

鈥淚 do not wish to address you so familiarly Miss Doncaster,鈥 said Leslie firmly. 鈥淧lease call me Miss Beckford. I would have forgiven you if you had taken back what you said at that time. But no, I was too late to realize the woman you had become. I do not regret ending my friendship with you.鈥

Jezebel smirked when she heard this. 鈥淪o you鈥檙e pinning the blame on me?鈥 she asked, 鈥淲hose fault is it that an adopted daughter happens to bear resemblance to her adoptive father? What are you going to do if you are proven to be illegitimate born?鈥

Leslie froze when she heard this as Jezebel along with a few other debutantes chuckled at her. However, Leslie could tell by the body language and facial expressions of the other debutantes that they were only taking Jezebel鈥檚 side to appease her. This was due to the fact that she was the niece of Lady Helena Doncaster, one of the highest-ranking women in the upper society. She had also heard that Jezebel was an up-and-coming actress who had played supporting roles in various stage plays and films.

The thought of Lady Helena Doncaster calmed Leslie鈥檚 mind down. Even after falling out with Jezebel, she had remained on good terms with Jezebel鈥檚 aunt who had been like a mother figure to her. Her recollection was interrupted when the orchestra began to play and the dancing commenced.

The debutantes and Leslie were quickly paired up and took to the dance floor. As she was twirled by her dance partner, she caught sight of her father who quietly applauded her. Every corner and space of the ballroom she turned, Leslie started to feel suffocated when she felt a lot of eyes staring at her. Older women partially hiding behind their fans and whispering to one another, and men huddled in groups with a champagne glass in each of their hands. She could not tell whether they were whispering about her or something else.

The music soon came to an end and Leslie separated from her dance partner. She headed to the table where she took a champagne glass from the tower. A familiar tap on her shoulder caused Leslie to relax as she turned around to find herself face-to-face with Lady Helena Doncaster.

鈥淢iss Leslie,鈥 exclaimed Lady Doncaster. 鈥淚t has been a while. Are you enjoying the ball?鈥

鈥淰ery much so,鈥 replied Leslie shyly. 鈥淚 happened to run into your niece earlier, and I do apologize if I had said anything that may have offended her.鈥

鈥淥h please do not worry about my niece,鈥 chuckled Lady Doncaster. 鈥淚 do have to take responsibility for how I raised her. I may have spoilt her a bit too much when she was younger, probably to help her overcome the trauma when she lost her parents.鈥

Leslie clearly remembered how she and Jezebel used to be such good friends when they were children. Lady Doncaster and Mr. Beckford were friendly with each other as well. The reason they got along with each other back then was; they both lost their parents and could relate to one another.

鈥淚 would love to talk more, but I just remembered that Sir Godric Chynoweth wanted a word with me,鈥 said Lady Doncaster. 鈥淧lease do visit me whenever you have the chance, and perhaps we could talk more over tea and cakes.鈥

Leslie nodded as she waved a polite goodbye to Lady Doncaster. Just as she took a small sip from her champagne glass, she was approached by a young man who looked quite familiar to her.

鈥淚 apologize for approaching you so suddenly,鈥 he told Leslie. 鈥淏ut, I could not take my eyes off you the moment I saw you.鈥

Leslie鈥檚 heart pounded when she heard this. Glancing at the man鈥檚 face, her emerald eyes widened in surprise as though she had finally recognized him.

鈥淵ou鈥檙e Edgar Allan!鈥 she exclaimed, 鈥淭he renowned photographer! I鈥檝e read all about you in the art magazines. They call you the Brueghel of Photography!鈥

鈥淚鈥檓 flattered to hear you say this,鈥 chuckled Mr. Allan as he tugged as his shirt collar. 鈥淚f you would like to see more of my artwork, please visit the National Portrait Gallery between September and October. My work is going to be exhibited there during that period.鈥

鈥淚t was honour to meet you Mr. Allan,鈥 said Leslie as she extended her hand.

鈥淧lease, call me Edgar next time we meet,鈥 said Mr. Allan as he returned Leslie鈥檚 handshake. 鈥淲ell, I鈥檇 better be on my way now.鈥

After Mr. Allan left, Leslie noticed that the members of the orchestra were preparing to start the next song. She quickly gulped down her champagne, placing her now empty glass on the silver tray of a passing waiter. This time, it was hard for her to find a partner, having been away from the dance floor for quite a long time now.

Glancing at her surrounding, Leslie spotted a young man up against the wall. Is he not used to attending social events? She wondered. After remembering her father telling her to use her debut as an opportunity to make friends or connections, Elise decided to approach the young man. Upon seeing Leslie, the man was surprised as she curtsied before him.

鈥淕ood evening sir,鈥 said Leslie shyly. 鈥淲ould you care to have a dance with me?鈥

Looking up, she noticed how flushed and awkward the young man looked. Was I a bit too overconfident? Thought Leslie to herself. Well, she did randomly approach him after all.

鈥淚鈥 uh鈥 would鈥 be honoured!鈥 replied the young man awkwardly.

He extended his hand to Leslie who placed her hand into his. The young man then escorted Leslie to the dance floor, joining the other men and women just as the music started.

鈥淭hank you鈥 for inviting me鈥 for this dance,鈥 said the young man as he twirled Leslie. 鈥淭his is the first time鈥 I鈥檝e been approached by someone.鈥

鈥淎re you perhaps not used to attending social events?鈥 asked Leslie out of curiosity.

鈥淣o!鈥 he exclaimed, 鈥淚t鈥檚 not that! It鈥檚 just that I鈥檓 a bit cautious around people鈥 cause they tend to avoid the awkward ones like myself.鈥

鈥淒on鈥檛 say that!鈥 Leslie uttered suddenly, 鈥淚 think you鈥檙e fine the way you are. It鈥檚 alright to feel awkward rather than trying to fit in. Just have a bit of confidence! That way, you will eventually meet the right people who will accept you.鈥

鈥淭his is the first time someone has ever told me this,鈥 said the young man. 鈥淵ou really are something, Miss鈥?鈥

鈥淢iss Beckford,鈥 she responded quickly. 鈥淢iss Leslie Beckford.鈥

鈥淓rnest,鈥 said the young man. 鈥淓rnest Gravetye.鈥

It was not long until the music came to an end. Leslie curtsied and Ernest bowed as they parted ways. She then went to join her father, who praised her for making a new acquaintance.

鈥淚 am proud of you Leslie,鈥 he told her. 鈥淵ou truly have become such a refined young woman. If my wife was alive, I am sure she would be proud of you as well.鈥

鈥淵es, father!鈥 beamed Leslie.

However, little did she know what fate awaited her until two months later鈥

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