I think this is pretty self explanatory, so, I'll let you jump right in. Enjoy!
At last, however, it is time for Penelope and Celeste to return home, as of course they must. Josephine escorts her friends to the door, and once Celeste’s family carriage has pulled up to the door, collected Celeste and driven away, Penny surprises her with an impossible request.
“Josephine, you must promise me to come to something this season. Some party or dance, somewhere. Please. It can be so lonely when Celeste is off with all of her admirers.”
“Penny,” Josephine stammers, “you know I cannot-”
“I know you have your obligations at home. I wouldn't wish for you to neglect them. But you deserve a season of your own, you know. I know you must be dreadfully lonely in this house. Please, promise me you will at least ask to join us.”
Josephine’s mouth hangs open a moment in a very unladylike fashion as she tries to find the right words. Penny is staring up at her, her brown eyes wide and almost pleading; it is a kind of desperation for companionship that Josephine knows only too well, and she finds it impossible to say no.
“All right, Penny. I will ask. I promise. I can’t promise to do anything more, though. I’m sorry.”
But Penelope’s smile is so bright that Josephine cannot help but smile back, even though she is torn between happiness at delighting her friend so, and mounting worry at abandoning her duties to her mother. The promise has been made, however, and all that is left is to carry it out.
Later that day, Josephine sits in the parlour again, embroidering a cushion while her mother and grandmother read by the fire. The room is nearly silent now, aside from the crackle of the fire that had been built to keep her mother from catching a chill. It is the same parlour that Josephine had spent so many enjoyable hours in earlier. The fine pink-and-white striped silk and cherry wood of the chairs is the same. The same dusky rose armchairs face the fireplace, with the same brass buttons now glinting in the flickering firelight. The same round tea table is covered with the same delicate lace tablecloth, although the tea things have long since been cleared away.
But in spite of the innumerable similarities, to Josephine, it feels like a completely different room. No laughter is filling it and making it seem less empty. There is no gentle chattering to coerce her into thinking that the wallpapered walls are not impossibly long, that the carved ceiling is not impossibly far away – that the room itself is not a neatly decorated cavern, filled with only echoes of voices that have long since fallen silent. In spite of the fact that there is a fire burning now when there had not been before, it is now when Josephine feels cold.
She stabs her needle in and out of the fabric, trailing green thread along after each neat stitch, looking up at the pair sitting by the fire every few minutes and wondering if she dares to interrupt the silence. After all, she did promise Penelope to ask.
The question burns on her tongue for hours, but in spite of the ache it causes, Josephine does not make a sound.