FREE on Kindle Unlimited $2.99 to buy
by Mara Gold
Publisher Mara Gold
FREE on Kindle Unlimited $2.99 to buy
Christian Historical Romance Novella-
Beautiful, willful Isabella Martin is being raised as a lady. After an embarrassing family loss, security is more important to her than love, and she aspires to marry up out of her social class. Will her dreams come true as she seeks to socially climb, or will she die a slow, ghastly death at the hands of an adversary just when her life began to have new meaning?
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 happiness.
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 the kitchen.
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 daughter.”
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 them.”
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 walk tomorrow.”
“Yes, that will indeed cheer me. Thank you cousin.” We settled down to sleep.
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Mara Gold has had a love of writing for decades. She has a passion for writing Christian historical romance with a bit of mystery. Mara has a thirst for knowledge and has earned a BBA degree with a minor in psychology along with an MBA degree with concentrations in international business and science. She has enjoyed reviewing papers and essays for college and high school students, and giving tips to tighten them up while covering the areas required for a top grade. She and her husband have fostered children for over 12 years, and have three beautiful children who keep them on their toes. Mara enjoys reading in her down time, spending time snow skiing, playing the piano, and attending church.