16th July, 1811
It is my sixteenth birthday and I'm happy beyond all limits. My dear Papa gave me this beautiful diary as a birthday gift and I'm determined to use it frequently. My name is Caecilia de la Salle, I'm the daughter of Jean de la Salle and his beautiful wife Eugenie.
I'm the youngest of eight children. Five girls and three boys. Gabriel is my eldest brother, he is twenty-seven. Then comes my eldest sister: Marie Victoria. She is twenty-five and married to a Colonel Farstow. Then my second brother Jean Luc. He is twenty-four and still unmarried.
Louis Philippe is my youngest brother, he is twenty-two and will marry is beloved Anne Coburt in a few weeks. Adalgisa is twenty and engaged to our dear neighbour, a Mr. Hensford. Juliette is nineteen and madly in love with an officer, a Colonel Wedford. And my youngest sister is Anna Marie, she is my twin.
We have the same black hair and dark blue eyes, the same slender figure, people who don't know us are always confused with our similarity. Anna Marie is not like me. She is shy and modest and always kind to anyone. I'm untamed and shrew but sensible. I have two passions: horses and the opera. I simply adore this music. Especially Mozart and Cherubini.
My love for jumping over fences with my beloved horse, Margherita, always drives my mother into the deepest worries. But she is always kind and understanding.
My dear parents........ Papa is general in the army. I don't like the army and I abhor wars. But I guess my simple mind doesn't count there. Mama is married to my father for over 30 years now. And they are still as much in love as a couple can be.
My family originally came from France. In the 16th century Huguenots like us had to flee from France to save their lives. Queen Elizabeth I. welcomed us to England and I'm very grateful for this.
We live in Yorkshire, in a lovely old village called Deytonville. It exists over 400 years now. Our estate is grand but not pompous. It has the lovely name "Le Rose", "The Rose". My father called it "the Rose" because this is his darling-name for my beloved Maman.
My dear Maman built a lovely rose garden around the little pond in our garden. The house is white and slender columns make it look very impressive. The roses on the walls are pink, yellow, white and red.
I shall return to my birthday-celebration now but write again in time...
A ball!! A ball for my birthday! I bet god can hear me jubilating! It'll be my debut in society, together with Anna Marie! The whole house is in commotion, I believe my sister and I are the sensation of today's gossip!
I've received so many lovely birthday presents! A new saddle for Margherita, a few novels and the ball-gown that I admired so much! Why can't everyone be as happy as I am? And HE will be invited...
Armand....I've met him in Deytonville. He is the son of Mr. de Boulais. Another French family that came here to save their lives. Mr. de Boulais is the Mayor of Deytonville. He and his wife Eugenie are THE couple of society. They're rich and honoured. And they deserve it. Mr. de Boulais is one of the kindest men I've ever met. He and his wife and their three sons will come to our ball! I'm so exited!
What is love? A word with four syllables. I've never known it until...It was six months ago when I and my sister Adalgisa went shopping in Deytonville. He was shopping in the same shop and accompanied us home. Since then my little heart is on fire... And he'll come tonight! Will he ask me to marry him? Oh God, please make him ask me!
Yes, I'm young. But younger girls than me get married every day. Hope blooms in my heart........ Gentle, pure hope..... Oh God, I'm hopelessly romantic and dreamy. Well, I shall take a ride on Margherita now to clear my head... I'm waiting for...
Waiting for what? For love?
How should I describe his appearance? Handsome? That would be an offense! He is tall, has black hair and black eyes. To describe his face is difficult... There is a sort of kindness in it, one would not expect...
He loves to ride and to read as I do. He has studied the law and will start at the court of Deytonville soon. Many mothers here would give everything to have him as a son in law. Why should I be the fortunate one?
The whole house is mad about the ball! The flower-arrangements alone could drive a sensitive person to despair. Maman and I decided that it should be red and white camellias. I simply love those angelic flowers....
My sisters are trying dresses and jewels and my brothers are laughing at them! What do THEY know about such things anyway? I flee to my piano and start to play and sing. Cherubino's canzone, "Voi che sapete", one of my favourites.
My brothers and Adalgisa sit around the piano and listen. The next piece is Medeas "Del tuoi figli la madre" from Cherubini. Medea... Oh how much I pity her! To be abandoned and to be scorned ... Poor creature!
Then Donna Anna's "Non mi dir" from "Don Giovanni". After those arias I play Beethoven's fifth piano-concerto. The second movement alone is a moment in heaven!
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