That night Daisy was going to meet her friend, Julia, and some others
downtown at the Peoria Women’s Club for a New Year’s Eve Dance. There
were several musical acts scheduled for the night, but the only one she knew
(and everyone else, for that matter) was the Peoria Municipal Band.
She had been looking forward to the event for weeks. After being extremely
busy at the Post Office and helping with nieces and nephews over the
holidays, she was ready for some time together with her girlfriends, was really
looking forward to hearing live music and – if she were being totally honest,
which she never would be – she was kind of hoping to maybe meeting some
nice man who wasn’t afraid of her strong opinions and liked music (and
maybe dancing) as much as she did. Her only wish for that night was just one
dance partner in the evening. Just one. For some reason, she felt like it was
too much to ask.
The last time she’d been to a dance with live music, it was a cotillion the
weekend before the Whiskeydaddle Fest. It was held on a small lake just
outside of town, where a small band played on the deck of a large cabin,
while partygoers lazily paddled (and peddled) boats nearby and others
mingled on series of pontoons that had been lashed together to a pier
extending to the shoreline. She remembered how a few boats drew away
far in the distance and at times appeared to be passenger-less until after a
few moments the silhouette of two heads would pop up. There were
fireworks that night but only in the literal sense – no one had asked her to
dance but was that because there were more boys than girls? Or was it
because of the way she looked? Or was it a little of both? Did she need to
put more effort into her style? What is her style?
These were the thoughts that went through her mind as she got dressed for
the evening. She asked her aunt if she had any jewelry she could wear, and
her aunt, flushed with motherly pride, told her she could wear any piece (or
pieces) she liked, along with anything else she desired in her closets and
“My treasures are your oyster,”
Daisy was almost overwhelmed. Her aunt was a very elegant lady and could
wear almost anything with grace and ease – even overalls when she was out
visiting the family farm. But this was uncharted territory for Daisy. She was
looking over the rings, necklaces, brooches, and pins – some sparkling white
and gold, others a bursting array of colors – when her aunt came into check
“Oh my! Look at you, dear!”
said her aunt, standing behind Daisy, both of their faces appearing in the
mirror in front of them.
“You look beautiful, my love! Have you decided on
“I’m not sure,”
said Daisy a bit sheepishly. She honestly didn’t know what she
should or shouldn’t wear. The only things that stood out to her were the
various colors and shapes. She knew what she liked, but she didn’t know
what was right.
“Here, let me help you,”
said her aunt with a smirk and a wink.
“This is kind of what I do. Sit down, dear.”
Daisy sat down on the tall bed, with her legs dangling just a few inches off
the ground, as her aunt searched singing softly as she went along. She
brought over five pieces – two rings, a bracelet, a necklace and a brooch.
They each were different in style, shape and color.
One ring was gold with a blue oblong sapphire surrounded diamonds in a
flourishing arrangement. The other ring was gold as well and showcased a
carved pink coral cameo. She was afraid they would slip off and she might
The bracelet was a thin gold band with a large jade centerpiece surrounded
by a ring of small diamonds, which were themselves surrounded by an even
smaller ring of jade. She was concerned she might bump against something
and damage it in some way – and it made one arm feel heavier than the
The necklace was a very lavish strand of gold beads and gold teardrops.
While she certainly was no expert on jewelry, Daisy could tell this was a very
expensive – and delicate – piece, which were two reasons why she would
not risk wearing it that night. After all, dances can get a little rambunctious
especially with a few drinks thrown in for the New Year.
But then there was the brooch. Silver leaves mingling with golden petals,
each inset with a single rose-cut diamond – a shimmering floral spray. Daisy
liked this one a lot and spent a long time looking it over which her aunt
“Well, you have very good taste, my dove,”
said her aunt.
“Actually, I have very good taste. I picked this piece up last year when we were
in Paris at Monsieur Cartier’s shop. See the number stamped there? Louis-Ferdinand
was the first to do that. He was tired of other jewelers replicating…oh never
mind. It looks perfect on you.”
said Daisy. She’d never really worn any jewelry before.
her aunt replied.
“After all, you’re a flower, too.”