February 6, 2006 at 3:37 am #1629asseropenParticipant
Caveat: Before anyone burns me at the stake (if phrases and sentences are recognized), some of the physical description has been plagiarized from Edith Wharton’s description of Lily Bart. Because she’s smart and a much better writer than I am.
Name: Ligeia Winnifred Hughes
Age and/or birth date: 28 / June 21, 1843
Eye Color: Blue
Height/weight: 5’10” / 112 lbs.
Appearance (clothes, etc..): Every aspect of fashion emphasizes the vertical, making the most of her slender form. Indeed, at a glance she appears evenly matched to her twin brother’s 6′ stature. Most commonly witnessed in a day dress in fabrics of subdued shades, the newest fashion of the bustle emphasizing the fullness of the layered and ruffled skirt in the rear. The narrow sleeves flare slightly at the wrist, and she walks through the world creating nothing more than a murmur of silken linings. Her dark chestnut hair is pulled back at the sides, worn in a high cluster of ringlets. When out during the day, she wears a smallish hat with a veil perched on top of her head. The attitude of adjusting her veil reveals the long slope of her slender sides, which give a kind of wildwood grace to her outline — as though she were a captured dryad subdued to the conventions of the drawing-room. Her hands are as polished as old ivory, with slender pink nails. If one were to have the privilege of examining her sylvan features close up, they might see how evenly the black lashes are set in her smooth white lids, and how the purplish shade beneath them melts into the pure pallor of the cheek.
Ligeia was unsure what disappointed her father more: the fact that she had been born a girl or the fact that she had denied his first son the privilege of being the eldest by coming into the world a whole two minutes ahead of him. Ligeia Hughes was born on June 21, 1843, preceding her twin Silas by a mere fraction of time that would come to define their relationship both to the family and to each other. Abraham and Winnifred Hughes would welcome a second son, Clarence, two years later.
Ligeia’s earliest memory is not a pleasant one. She was only five years old when she found her mother in the parlor, tongue swollen, a teacup emptied of its poison having fallen to the carpet beside her chair.
During their childhood, the three Hughes children found themselves under the tutelage of a governess. Ligeia’s lessons ran from French, music, and history, to mathematics and the general scientific knowledge deemed suitable for a woman’s mind. Ligeia had a voracious mind for reading, as hungry as any man’s, and was often bullied by her twin brother into finishing his lessons. This proved to give Ligeia the greater education of the two, even after Silas went away to school.
In the spring of 1859, at the age of 15, Ligeia received her first offer of marriage after being presented at Court and “coming out” into society. Lawrence Elliott, eight years her senior, was the second son of a barrister with aspirations towards the church. On the advice of a family friend, and at the suggestion of his son Silas, Abraham gave his daughter permission to refuse the proposal. Alliance with the clergy was not an aim quite high enough for the grand aspirations of the Hughes family.
In 1861, Ligeia’s youngest brother Clarence, then only 16, departed London for America; the better to negotiate the family’s business dealings with the Confederacy. In the wake of his departure, Ligeia was deprived of all familial tenderness and left only with the increasing rivalry of her twin and the increasing obstinacy of her father.
The remaining family’s divisiveness would prove irremediable after the events of 1866.
When Clarence failed to return from America in the wake of the Civil War’s final outcome, Abraham and Silas washed their hands of him. In polite society, for as long as it was required of them, they mourned him as if he were deceased, though there was no proof of such happenings. Conversely, there came no proof that the youngest Hughes boy was alive and the two men simply refused Ligeia’s pleas to investigate the matter further. Clarence had been raised more than a fair bit by her hand, and Ligeia felt his loss as she imagined she would feel the loss of her own child.
That same year, at the age of 22, Ligeia received her second marriage proposal. Frederick Selden’s family had been known to the Hugheses since before the arrival of Confederate gold. In childhood, Frederick and Silas were mates up until Frederick joined the Navy at 14. In 1865, Frederick, now a Captain, reappeared in London society and sought the companionship of his old chum. Ligeia was at once struck by the transformation of the boy who used to dip her pigtails into an inkwell; Frederick, in turn, was struck by the restrained, complacent beauty of his friend’s twin sister. They met again in the Season of 1866, and though there was nothing new about Captain Selden, she could never see him without a faint movement of interest. She was courted and everything seemed set in the proper motion towards marriage. Though propriety would not allow her to convey the stirrings of her heart, Frederick felt confident that his feelings were reciprocated. That was, up until the day he proposed. Without consulting the inclinations of his daughter, Abraham flat out refused to grant Captain Selden his daughter’s hand in marriage. Even applying to his friend’s influence over the Hughes family patriarch proved fruitless. Abraham Hughes was firm. The family name was rising in wealth and consequence, and a Naval captain from a merchant family was no suitable husband for his eldest, his one and only daughter. Silas would later evade his sister’s direct questions, and his motivations for keeping the couple apart have remained a mystery to Ligeia.
From that moment on, Ligeia felt a chill steal over her heart. To suitable men she was polite, but never too polite. No sense in being too encouraging. Once the proper husband had been located, she felt certain that her father and her brother would notify her of the wedding date. She always paid for her rare indiscretions by a violent reaction of prudence. As the years went by, the family worth increased and in some circles the novelty of the nouveau riche was always welcome. It was known by many that the Hugheses were a scrupulous and calculating bunch. In the men, it was almost an admirable quality, an enviable business trait. It was characteristic of her that she always roused suspicion, that her simplest acts seemed the result of far-reaching intentions.
I think there is an interesting opportunity available for someone to PC Captain Frederick Selden. Not only is there the question of where his conquests have taken him in the past five years since he proposed to Ligeia, but his reappearance in their societal circles during the current season could lend an intriguing tension to role play. Mayhaps a scandal? My only request is that he look the way I have him pictured, and I do have those photos available should anyone wish to pursue the opportunity.
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