I was past being terrified. I was past being in shock. How did it get to
this point? Did I deserve to die this horrible, slow death? At least I
was alive…for now. Someone would surely find me. That is what I would
focus on as I clung to life. A life that had just took on new meaning
and was to be finally complete. The kind of complete that reached into
my very soul and heart, and that surrounded both with love and
I drifted into a listless sleep after trying to shift to a more
comfortable position. It was best to sleep and to dream of better times.
I saw mother, father, and dear old cook in my languid state and saw
myself chasing them, calling to them. They smiled at me and slowly moved
further from me.
Chapter 1: My Upbringing
Cook rolled her eyes heavenward and slapped at my hands and laughingly
said, “Isabella Katherine, stop snitching my trifle and help me by
adding butter and rose water to the hasty pudding.”
I obliged, being used to the pattern of things in our inn’s kitchen.
After I added the rose water, I quickly stole a trifle and ran out of
Behind me I heard the half-hearted shouts of cook, “Isabella
Katherine, you would think you were a little girl instead of a grown
woman of 16.”
In my hurry, I ran right into mother.
“Isabella, ladies do not run.”
“Mother,” I chuckled, “I am not a lady, I am an innkeeper’s
Mother bristled and then sighed as she did so often in her efforts to
make me a lady.
“I am sorry mother. I know how important it is for you to have an
accomplished daughter,” I said to avoid a lecture in what I hoped was
a worthy tone.
“Yes, my dear, and a daughter that has decorum at all times. You are
special Isabella. You have something the other girls do not possess. A
panache if you will. There is a confidence of spirit and elegance that
surrounds you. You were made for bigger things. You will cease to run
and behave in a hoydenish manner.”
I felt slightly remorseful, remembering all that my parents had
sacrificed to give me a more genteel upbringing. I was their only child
and was fawned on from birth. I was nearly perfect in their eyes and
they had high expectations for me. They wanted a marriage for me that
was above our station in life. I did not feel ready for marriage and all
that it entailed. Giving up my liberty would be like slowly dying. I did
not want a husband’s tight control.
Just then my cousin Caroline walked into the room. “Really Issie, will
you constantly be late for every lesson?”
“Hello Aunt Albina,” she said as she grabbed my arm to drag me out
of the room.
“Yes, do go girls. It is not lady-like to be late. How will you
attract a suitor?”
I grimaced and mother said, “Isabella, the whole goal is to get you
into an advantageous marriage. So far, your father has had at least four
men who have offered for you. None were suitable and so we told each of
I did not want to hear this type of dialog again, so I kissed mother’s
cheek and quit the room quickly with Caroline in toe.
Monsieur Davolt, our French tutor, was pleased with my progress, but
lamented over Caroline’s accent. Caroline tried so very hard to please
him, just as she did in every aspect of her life.
We had tutoring in different subjects including drawing, dancing,
singing, piano, and basic education topics. We also had religious
education and attended our Parish church as much as we could.
Our dance instructor continued with our training after our French lesson
was complete. Many of the dances had intricate steps that were easy for
me, but difficult for my cousin.
The servants always gathered to watch our dancing lessons and clapped at
the end of the session. I saw them wince and looked over at Caroline.
She was heavy on her feet and could not master the simplest steps.
I overheard our maid Betty whispering to cook, “Poor mite. She is a
faded version of Miss Isabella.”
Cook agreed, “She is that. They look so alike but poor Miss Caroline
is washed out next to our Miss Issie. Not only in looks but in every
accomplishment. If only she would not try so hard.” She clicked her
tongue and shook her head.
I looked over at Caroline and saw her ashen face and knew she had heard
every word. I whispered in her ear, “determination dear cousin.”
She looked resolute and I told her to look up and not at her feet so
often. She improved.
Later that evening under the bed covers in our room Caroline took out
her button box and as we counted we chanted,
Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man,
Poor man, beggar, thief.
This year, next year, now or never.
Caroline giggled. “When we blew on dandelions last summer, you always
could blow them in one or two breaths. You will be married before me.”
“Nonsense! The last thing I would want is for a man to control me. If
my parents have their way, it will be to a man above my station in life.
Throughout the years I would be constantly reminded by his family in
little ways that I am a social climber.”
“Submission is definitely not part of who you are. I think that’s
why Mr. Jones always has something to say about obedience when he comes
for religious training.”
“He is beastly. I can’t pretend to be ill again when he comes since
I have done just that so often.”
“Seriously Issie, I do not believe for one moment that you will let
your future husband’s family bring you down. You do not care what
anyone says about you. Furthermore, Mr. Jones tries so hard to reach
your soul and you block him at every turn. He must dislike coming here
as much as you dislike receiving him.”
“He such a small, fussy man. But, I do know that he is earnest in his
teachings and does desire goodness of heart. As for me not caring what
others say about me, neither should you Caroline.”
Caroline paused and I gathered her to me for comfort.
“I cannot help it. I so want to be liked.”
“I know what will cheer you up Caroline. Let us go for a nice long
“Yes, that will indeed cheer me. Thank you cousin.” We settled down
Excerpted from "Bond Trilogy Book 1: Isabella" by Mara Gold. Copyright © 2018 by Mara Gold. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.