Friday, February 6, 2015

Into Thornwood || Chapter Two

By Becca
Sorry, the font and indentation is goofy.

Chapter Two 

                  Sunlight came streaming through the window, drenching the canopy bed in golden warmth. The sleeper buried her face into the pillows, hoping to steal a few more peaceful moments.                                            A few days after the engagement party, Father left aboard one of his steamers. Caprice insisted on the best silk for her wedding dress and of course Father could not deny her anything.  Dax was home for the summer, which meant Cecile had at least one ally in the house. She attempted to spend time with Caprice, yet found herself stepping into the lion’s mouth. Lately Caprice had been more intolerable then usual…  If only Father had not gone away.

He smiled and kissed her before stepping into the carriage.

                 “Is there anything I can bring back for you my dear?” 
 Cecile took his hand and brought it to her lips. “Dear father, all I want is for you to return home safe and sound.” 
With a chuckle he gathered her into his arms. She nestled her head against his coat, inhaling the sent of cologne. 
                    “Please be careful, I’ll pray for you every day.” 
He held her closer, cheek pressed against her hair. “Be brave my little maiden, and I’ll be home again before you know it.” 
                That was a month ago. 
                 A door creaked. She peeked with one eye as Ettie came into her room and began laying out her morning dress. Relieved, Cecile turned over and snuggled deeper under the blankets. 
                 Yesterday, Caprice burst into her room before breakfast and demanded help with some trifle of the wedding. She was getting very impatient.  For she could not have her wedding until Father returned, even then it would be at least a week to make the extravagant dress she wanted. All she talked of was Andrew or Andrew’s family or the wedding plans. When Father was mentioned she then prattled about the beautiful silk he would bring home, and perhaps an exotic wedding present. Did she care for Father at all? Stop that, Cecile scolded herself, of course she does. 
                   Cecile groaned and sat up. Her mind was fully awake and would not let her fall back asleep now. She slipped into her morning robe, ran a brush through her hair and headed down stairs.
 The smell of breakfast intensified as she entered the dinning room. The dinning table, large enough to hold a grand dinner party with room to spare, looked so lonely with only Dax sitting near the head. He stood when he saw her and offered a chair.
                  “Good morning Cecile. Did you sleep well?” 
                  She brightened and kissed his cheek. “Very well, and you?”
                  His face twisted into a grimace as they sat down.
                  “I had a dreadful dream that you were kidnapped by giant sewer rats. They were monstrous, the size of large dogs! They asked a ransom of five hundred pounds.” 
                  Cecile laughed, “Did you give it to them?” 
                  “ No, I didn’t.” He admitted. “In the dream I was a pickpocket living on the streets and couldn’t steal enough money.” 
                  “Oh dear, so what did the rats do?”  
                  “I’m afraid they ate you alive. Would you like some tea?” 
Her eyes widened. “Why that’s terrible! Tea sounds lovely, thank you.” 
                  “Oh it was, and it felt so real too!” He lifted the silver teapot and filled her cup. “When I awoke, I had to check and see if you where still here.”
                  Cecile blew lightly on the steaming earl gray and smiled, “That’s sweet of you.”
                   Caprice swept into the room. “What are you two talking about?”  
                   Dax rose and pulled out her chair.
                  “Oh, nothing important. How did you sleep last night?” 
                  “Horrible! I hardly got a wink, some lunatic was moaning about giant rats. I’m a very light sleeper you know.” 
                    Dax returned to his seat and took a sip of his tea. “I’m sorry you had such a rough night. Giant rats you say? Someone must have had a curious dream.” He winked at Cecile.
                   Hurried footsteps approached the dining room and the butler appeared in the doorway. 
                  “Sir, Mr. Hawthorne is here to see you. He says he has urgent news concerning Master Bellerose.”
                 The table settings clattered as Dax and Cecile leapt up from their places.
                  “Stay here,“ he ordered Cecile, “I’ll go and speak to him.” Dax and the butler left the room. 
                   Cecile sank into her chair, thinking of a dozen reasons why father’s lawyer would come to their house so early in the day. None of which were good. Her teacup rattled against the saucer as she lifted it with shaking hands. Faint voices drifted by and fell silent behind the click of a latch.
                 Dear Lord, I’m so worried for Father. You know where he is, and his life is in your hands…. Oh please God, let Father be alive!
                 She looked up, hearing an awful sound and saw Caprice across the table sobbing uncontrollably. Setting her cup down, she rushed to Caprice’s side. 
                  “Caprice, I’m sure Father will be fine. Oh please stop crying.”  Caprice threw herself on her sister with a wail and soaked her shoulder with a fresh flood of tears. Cecile cradled the shuddering figure in an embrace; a gesture abolished in their relationship years ago, and cautiously stroked her hair. 
                  “Hush… I’m worried for Father too, but crying won’t help us now. We only need to wait for Dax to return and tell us the news, until then all we can do is pray. You’ll simply tire yourself with hysterics.” 
                  “ I’ll never have my wedding!” Caprice bawled. 
                  Cecile pulled back in disbelief.  “Your wedding? Father could be adrift in the ocean and all you can think about is your wedding?” She seized Caprice by the shoulders and stared into her reddened eyes. 
                   Caprice whimpered, looking anywhere to avoid her sister’s accusing gaze. Blubbering words tumbled from her lips as she shrank from Cecile’s sudden audacity. 
                  “I-if Father’s steamer has sunk, we will all go down with it… and I’ll never have my wedding.” 

                 When Dax returned, he looked old. 
His usually cheerful, handsome face was haggard and colorless. He collapsed in the nearest chair and laid his head in his arms. Any hope Cecile had left drained away the moment he stepped through the door. After a century of heartbeats, trembling breath, and the ticking of the grandfather clock, he lifted his head and spoke the dreaded words.
                  “Mr. Hawthorne received the news early this morning. Father’s ship the SS Everhart was keeping contact with a sister ship the SS Jeanne-Marie. Two days ago they were rounding the cape of Africa on their way home. A storm blew in, worse than anything they had ever seen. The Jeanne-Marie lost sight of the Everhart and when the skies cleared, she was gone. Mr. Hawthorne and Father’s business managers will take care of everything they can, but it seems that Father had a considerable amount of money tied up in this venture and the buyers are demanding payment. I’m afraid things are only going to get worse.”

                  On a cold rainy morning they stood in the street outside their home, a thousand memories dancing before their eyes like phantoms. The vacant house looked as stripped and abandoned as they felt. Dax clasped his sisters’ hands firmly and whispered a prayer,
                  “Dear God, we know that You work all things together for those who love you. And I am not going to pretend to know what You are doing with all of this, but I do trust You. Please protect us and guide us and give me the wisdom to know what to do. In Your Son’s name, amen.”
                   Cecile’s eyes brimmed with tears, and they began to spill down as she looked over at Caprice, who stared ahead blankly. With a bundles of clothes, a few precious items, a small sum of money left over from the sale and an address Mr. Hawthorne gave to them, they turned and walked away. 
                    The muddy cobblestones twisted and turned amidst the narrowing street. Buildings seemed to crowd together and peer down at the people below. Beneath a shop canopy Dax halted and pulled out the address from his coat pocket. Soggy children dashed through the mud, veering round the carriages. One buggy raced by at a dangerous speed, scattering the children and spraying mud everywhere. Cecile found a clean corner of her shawl to wipe Caprice’s face, but it only smeared. A street vendor shouted with a shaking fist, his baked potatoes dripping with the foul water. The paper had found shelter under Dax’s coat in time and remained intact. He looked up and around at the street signs, referred to the paper and then back to signs. Finally, with an air of decision, he stepped into the rain.
                 “It shouldn’t be much farther now, come on.” 
                  Caprice huddled against his arm, head down, like a frighten child. After Father’s death, everything disappeared; their home, belongings, friends, even Andrew vanished after the news, and like a gust of air to candle, the tragedy blew Caprice out.
                  People scurried into doorways, around corners and down stairwells to get out of the rain; everyone had a place to go. Cecile held tight to Dax’s hand, but not from fear; for the crowd was swift and she was determined not to lose any more of her family.
                  This life, so foreign from her own, was only a half dozen blocks away from Bellerose Mansion. Well, it wasn’t Bellerose Mansion anymore, she supposed with an odd feeling creeping through her. That life was gone, forever. 
                  “Here we are.”  At Dax’s words she looked up.
                   A door, once painted red, emblazoned with black 27 stood resolutely at the base of the tall brick building. He rapped on the door and then waited. 
                   Here we are… those words echoed in her mind.
                   This would be her life now.


  1. Becca, Im loving it more and more! Love the Jane Austin feel :)

  2. Oh dear, Dax is dreaming about R.O.U.S.! That's pretty scary. :)
    I'm really enjoying the story! I can't wait to see what you've done with the rest of Beauty and the Beast. I'm loving what you've done so far.


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