• For weeks I did not wear that dress. There was nowhere to wear it to. I had a treasure that I had spent all my life yearning for, yet I couldn't even put it to use! I felt like such a fool, allowing it to stay and rest unused beneath my old bed. However, the opportunity knocked one day and I answered.
    I was running my usual errands and dropped a heavy load of fine and elegant gowns. I groaned with exasperation and went to pick them up. Luckily, they were not dirty or damaged in the least. Had they been so, I would have been punished.
    "Did you hear of the gala this evening?" a richly dressed man said to another with interest.
    "Why yes I have. Isn't it at the Lady Bianca's manor?" the other replied happily.
    My heart leapt with excitement. I had a place to wear my dress. I could sneak out tonight and have myself a good time at the party. I also knew were Lady Bianca's home was, since sometimes I ran messages over to her from the family I served. I silently smiled to myself as I ran back home to deliver the gowns. I could wear the lovely dress. For once, I would not be Annalisa the servant. I would be Annalisa the woman of nobility. It would only be for a night. But just one night was all I wanted. One night would last me a lifetime.

    As soon as my family fell asleep that night, I silently put on the dress and mask. I brushed my blond, curled hair as best I could, so I would appear as if I had been able to take diligent care of it everyday. I found it a little difficult to walk in the shoes I had stolen from the Lady Cipriana, the eldest daughter of the family I served. But I managed not to trip with practice.
    So, occasionally wobbling, I set off for the gala. I made sure the white, cat-like mask covered my face so that I would not be discovered as the servant I was.
    Finally I reached the party. Lovely music, the greatest I had ever heard in my entire life, spread everywhere and filled everyone's hearts with joyous merriment. Everyone was dancing, laughing, and speaking happily. The sweet smell of wine and food filled my nostrils and made my mouth water. Tonight I was not a servant. I was a noble woman. But only for tonight. After this evening, I would probably never taste this again.
    I took in a deep breath and stepped out into the party. As I noiselessly walked through the crowd, men, young and old stared at me in a way I had never seen before. It unnerved me and made my heart flutter. I walked and was quiet. Suddenly someone took my hand and lightly kissed it.
    I looked up to see a young man, about my age, standing right in front of me. He wore nothing but dark clothing and a bird-like mask to match. His skin was pale like mine and his hair was as black as night. He politely bowed and stared at me. I noticed that he had dark, dashing eyes that carried a mysterious air about them. My heart fluttered as he smiled kindly at me.
    "Would I be correct in guessing that this is your first time at a gala such as this?" he asked in a peculiarly lilting voice. I gulped nervously and nodded slowly.
    The young man smiled at me again and extended his black gloved hand. I was grateful for wearing the mask, for it hid the blush that rushed to my face.
    "Then would you mind if I had this dance? I could aid you in feeling a little more at ease." he said politely, motioning for me to dance.
    I took his hand. It was cool yet calloused like mine. I could feel the rough skin through the gloves.
    "Yes. I would rather appreciate that. Would you mind telling me your name?" I replied in no more than a whisper, still feeling extraordinarily nervous.
    The man began to lead as we danced. I allowed him to lead, for I did not have the slightest clue at how to dance. He was a small deal clumsy, but he still knew what he was doing. I noticed people staring at us. One in particular was a man in richer clothes than the one I danced with. Women surrounded him like flies to carrion. However, he still looked at me, only distantly answering the questions and words of the women. I turned my head back to my partner.
    "Poalo. My name is Poalo. And yours, milady?" my dance partner answered happily, still guiding me through the dance.
    "Annalisa, sir." I answered a little nervously.
    He chuckled and moved us into a circle like movement. We were standing closer now. My heart skipped a beat. How could this man make me feel like this? I promised myself that nothing would happen. Yet this was happening to me. A man, a handsome man, was dancing with me and smiling at me.
    "Try to relax, Annalisa. You are so nervous and tense. You should be laughing and having a good time." Poalo exclaimed as he lifted me up and then set me down. It was easy for him to say. His heart was skipping a beat everytime he glanced at his partner.