Daughters of Clio is the prompt-a-week group of Trix, Clare, Tara, and I.
Last week the prompt was Clare’s choice to pick a person, and she picked “The First and Fifth.”
This is sort of Shustsumon’s fault, because she mentioned it sounded like a Dr. Who fanfic title.
The first and fifth Miss Draper of Albany, NY studied the probationary sixth of their line.
“She fits the qualifications,” Miss Draper Five said, more than a little defensively. “She’s overqualified in over half the categories.”
“And choosing your successor is, of course, your purview.” Miss Draper the First carried prim and proper as if she was the one who was stylish, and everyone else just horribly out of fashion; the Fifth had never been able to rid herself of the urge to tug her skirt further over her knees and put a hat on. Now she was also fighting the urge to go put a hat on the girl who, with any luck, would be the Sixth. “But she’s so very…” The First’s gesture seemed to include all sorts of words without ever being so rude as to say them.
“Modern,” the Fifth countered. “Which isn’t always a bad thing, you know.”
“Of course not. Modernity has its place… but is that place in the house of Miss Draper?”
“I bring your attention to the Third. Think of what she did.”
“Well, yes, she was very instrumental in some changes that we really wanted to see… but she also did so while remaining within the strictures of the culture she lived in.”
“It’s two thousand eleven Anno Domini. I wouldn’t say anything she is doing qualifies as outside the strictures of her culture. She could have seventeen piercings and still be not that far outside of the strictures.”
“But would she fit into, say, her mother’s world?”
“That can be taught. And I have a year to teach her.”
“Why are you so set on this one, Eloise?”
“I like her,” the Fifth answered, ignoring the breach in protocol. “And you should have seen her at the cocktail party last weekend; the way she handled two drunken congressmen and a state senator was brilliant. She has a way with people, and that’s the thing we can’t teach.”
“Ah. There is that. And she has the look, doesn’t she? If you discount the… clothing. But is she already too well known? You mentioned congressmen?”
“She’s a waitress with a catering company.”
“Aah, so invisible. Very good, Eloise. Miss Draper.”
“Thank you, Miss Draper.” In theory, the current Miss Draper outranked those who had come before her; she had the final say on all business decisions, and no-one would contradict her on more personal choices, either. But the first of the line had never truly let go of the reins, stepping back from the role only when the passage of time demanded it. Eloise might outrank Second through Fourth, but, theory aside, the First was still in charge.
“So, this girl. If you truly believe she’s the one, I suppose you ought to bring her in. I do hope you can teach her some manners, however, before you introduce her to the public. We don’t want another mess like Third, do we?
Fifth hadn’t been born yet when Third had begun making a mess. “No, ma’am. I don’t think she’ll be a mess at all.” And even Third had maintained the Draper name and fortune, albeit in a bit bawdier fashion than First might like. “Would you like to meet her now, then?”
“I think that can wait.” First’s smile as she tapped Fifth’s hand was a sharp thing, with all the genuineness of margarine on plastic toast. “I look forward to seeing what you do with her, dear.”