|The Black Rose
Author: SnapdragonK PM
This is the first chapter of my book called "The Black Rose", which is a Romance/Mystery story set in 1566, Gravesend, England. It is about a noble's six daughters, and the eldest is about to get married. Seventeen-year-old Emiliana is busy being excited for her sister when a series of strange and unexpected events take place, leaving her to figure out who the liar is.Rated: Fiction K - English - Mystery/Romance - Chapters: 2 - Words: 8,728 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 02-03-13 - Published: 01-06-13 - id: 3089933
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Black Rose
1. The Guests Arrive
It was early in the morning-no, it was before the morning. Only the tiniest streak of yellow showed in the distance like a seam right where the sky and the hills met. Esther was supposed to wake up the the twins to have an early breakfast with their mother. "Penelope, Emiliana, wake up! Your mother wishes to see you." "Oh, do shut up, Esther, won't you?" Penelope complained. "I'm trying to sleep."
"Yes, but mother wants us, Penny," Emiliana replied, although she too would rather be in bed. It was usual to wake up at this time now, because lessons were supposed to be done by dinnertime, or midday. Esther helped the sisters get dressed and they hurried downstairs, tardy, as usual. They knocked on their mother's chamber. "Come in, come in," was the reply. When they entered, Alexandria, the next-to-eldest sister, was sitting in a small chair next to her mother's bed. Samantha, who was sixteen and a year younger than Penelope and Emiliana, was on a stool. "Pull up chairs, Penelope, Emiliana. You are late again." Tables were set and the girls began to eat as their mother spoke. "Part of being a lady is to be punctual. I expected more of you, especially, Penelope. You are nearly as old as Samantha," she scolded. Penelope did not even blush. The sisters glanced at each other; there was tension in the air, and it was obvious that their mother was building up to something. Regardless, their morning lessons began uneventfully, and dragged on until it was nearly ten o' clock. Then the girls' mother announced,"I have something important to tell you. Your eldest sister Caroline is to be married and we are going to have a ball. I need your help in making the invitations and preparing the house. Of course, it is obvious what each of you can do. Maya is meeting with her riding instructor so one of you will have to tell her." There was a pause, and then shrieks of delight. They may be sophisticated, but they were still teenage girls, and they were going to get to help host a ball. "Hush, girls, you're acting ridiculous for goodness' sake." The shrieks were reduced to quiet giggles. "Girls!" A sharp reprimand from their mother hushed them completely. "The party will be held in two weeks' time, and you will be greeting the guests in five days."
Preparations began immediately. The invitations were made, which was Emiliana's favorite part about the preparations. She was very skilled at calligraphy. All the girls were jealous of her, especially Alexandria because she was not only prone to jealousy, but was also not particularly talented when it came to penmanship. Maya, who was the youngest of all the sisters and had been adopted from Spain, was the very best at painting, so she did the decorating. The rest of the girls gossiped and sewed and gossiped some more. Alexandria was hoping that perhaps she may meet her future husband at the reception- about four hundred people would be invited to the wedding. So the girls spent the next three days sewing, planning, writing, and mostly arguing. But it is four days closer to the event when we pick up the story.
"Esther, can you please help me with this?" Emiliana called. Penelope was fussing over her closet and overheard Emiliana calling for their shared maid. "No, I need her right now. I cannot decide what to wear when we greet the guests-oh, why are they always invited so early?" Emiliana ignored the fact that Esther's assistance had been stolen from her and replied, "it's only proper that they come a week or two before the wedding. And, Penny dear, that looks fine on you." Emiliana was referring to the sky-blue, Spanish-style dress that Penelope was trying on; it had been a gift from Maya. "Oh," Penelope exclaimed, distressed. "It does not. Not for this occasion, Em! And Maya did not know that I don't particularly look good in blues." Of course, Emiliana disagreed with Penelope's dramatics. She herself was wearing a simple winter dress with fur sleeves, it had been specially made for Maya's arrival just last winter. "But you can't look better than me!" Penelope insisted tactlessly. Slightly offended, Emiliana beckoned Esther to accompany her to the front door. "Listen, Esther, why don't you go back upstairs, and tell Penelope that you're fetching my gloves, then grab a dress that catches your eye and skip back down here." Esther left, and Emiliana waited. "Well, hello, Miss Caven! Isn't it a great day? Yes, it is. Are you feeling well? Yes, you look like it. Where's Esther? I saw her on the stairs," it was Mr. Thomas Caswell, a good friend of Emiliana's father, Sir Caven. He was also very fond of answering his own questions. "Good morning, Mr. Caswell. I'm just waiting for my maid and then we will be right there to greet the guests." Emiliana nodded politely. Mr. Caswell smiled. "Very good, very good." He left as Esther came running down the hall. "Oh, do tell me what you need another dress for, Miss Emiliana?" Emiliana took the gown from her maid and held it up against Esther. "That will do. You can't go and greet guests looking like a maid, can't you? Besides, I need you to escort me." Naturally, Emiliana didn't really need an escort, but she knew that Esther would be dying to see all the guests arriving in their beautiful carriages and dresses and suits. Also, she wouldn't terribly mind getting to dress up in Emiliana's clothes. "Really?" Esther asked. "Yes, of course. Did you actually get my gloves?" Esther nodded and handed her a pair of silk, pearl-colored ones. "Ah, good." They waited just a little longer until Penelope, Maya, Samantha and Alexandria joined them. Penelope was still complaining about her dress and the early arrival. "They don't have to come even before Caroline does! This is silly!" Maya rolled her eyes. "It's all the more time for you and Alexandria to flirt and what ever you wish to do. You get to meet the guests first." This comment made them quiet for a good while. "Let's go, then, they're just getting out now." Samantha led the way out the door.
The greeting was formal and long, and Emiliana was glad to finally get back to her chamber. She would never keep the names straight in her head: Sir and Madame Nershire, Sir Nutting, Sir Hills and his daughter. Too many sir's and miss's and madame's. The only one she could remember properly was Sir Finn, his crest had been totally unfamiliar to her but she had not any time to ask him about it, although she had tried to. Taking one look at him, Penelope had decided that she wanted to greet him personally and that no one should take the liberty to even say hello. Exhausted, Emiliana changed into a softer gown and sat at her desk, picking up her quill and biting the end of it. It was a terrible habit of hers-she always bit her quill while thinking and no one knew a cure for it. Emiliana dug up a piece of parchment and began scratching a letter to her cousin who lived south of the Cavens:
Caroline's getting married! I am so excited for her. Do you remember Sir Beckett? He's quite nice, but father doesn't like him much. Nonetheless, he is giving them his blessing. I am so glad and it is going to be so much fun, even though Penelope is being quite a pain because she 's complaining too much and won't let any one but herself speak to Sir Finn. I am very curious about his emblem but have not been able to approach him. Mother was angry at me because we were late for lessons this morning again and Sir Caswell has been bothering me fiercely. I do wish that he would leave me alone. Otherwise, I've had a good day and I was just wondering how you are doing-and also how is Jilla? -Hannah had made up this name for her daughter.- Are you planning to come down for the wedding?
After putting the final decorations on her envelope, Emiliana sealed it and stamped it, then put it in the middle of her desk to be mailed later. Feeling refreshed, Emiliana proceeded down the stairs. On her way, she stopped by the kitchen to visit with the cook and cook's maid. "Do you have any bread pudding today, Matilda?" Emiliana asked as she gave the cook a meaningful look that asked 'can I stick my finger in this here cake batter?' With a dirty look, the cook nodded. The cook's maid, Matilda, responded to Emiliana with, "oh, yes, it is. Why don't you take a cup of it-and here's a spoon- out to the garden." "Thank you, dear." Emiliana left. Unfortunately, when she arrived at the garden, she noticed that Mr. Caswell must have had the same idea-he was sitting on her favorite bench and sniffing one of Emiliana's mother's prized black roses. As Emiliana tried to sneak away, he saw her, then jumped up, ran over, and said, "Miss Emmi! Where do you think you're going? I was hoping you would show up." Emiliana brushed her hair out of her face and replied, "you were, ah, waiting for me?" She was slightly disturbed. "Oh, no, see, the phrase 'waiting for you' implies that I knew you were going to come out here. I simply went for a walk in the garden and thought to myself, 'perhaps Miss Emmi will come along'. And here you are." Not only did Emiliana get the distinct feeling that he was, in fact, waiting for her, but she also disliked his new-founded habit of calling her Emmi. Only Hannah and Maya, who were the two people that she was closest to, called Emiliana by her nickname. Besides, as far as she knew, she hadn't mentioned her nickname ever before in the presence of Mr. Caswell. "Mr. Caswell, whatever gave you the idea to call me Emmi?" He replied, "oh, I must've picked it up from one of your friends. See you, Miss Emmi..liana." As soon as he was out of sight, Emiliana went and sat on the bench, then picked up the dark-colored rose and smelled it. It was quite a lovely flower, and it had a story. When Sir. Caven had proposed to Emiliana's mother, he had done so with a ruby necklace and bracelet to match, a big diamond ring, several good, well-trained horses along with a brand-new carriage for her father, and a single black rose. Now Madame Caven always kept a nice, large, private garden of black roses. Emiliana smiled, thinking how Mr. Caswell must be one of the only outsiders to have gotten a rose from Madame Caven's personal garden. It was kept very private, you see, and-..and nothing. Emiliana thought, standing up. And nothing! Private. He hadn't been one of the first outsiders to be allowed entrance into Madame Caven's garden! He hadn't been allowed entrance at all! It was private! And so was 'Emmi'! So the question remained, how did he get a black rose? The walls around the garden were high, the odds of a rose blowing over were slim. It was everything but illegal to grow black flowers. You couldn't get arrested for it but no one wants to get on Madame Caven's bad side. Emiliana stuffed the rose in the small pocket at her waist. She was just standing up to leave when someone approached her. "Hey, Emmi! Do you want to go riding with me?" said Maya in her pretty Spanish accent. Emiliana forced a smile as she considered telling Maya about Mr. Caswell and the rose. Deciding against telling Maya, Emiliana replied hesitantly, "sure."
"Don't do that, Emmi! What are you doing?" Maya said, jumping off her horse and walking over to Emiliana's. "Trying to fix the saddle," Emiliana responded. "No, no. Cuidadosamente."
"I don't know the word for it. Smart...attention...slow.." Maya listed, frustrated. Emiliana shrugged. "We can ask Mr. Oswyn later." Mr. Oswyn was a very educated man who had graduated Oxford and come all the way from London to teach Maya English. Maya nodded. "Now, don't do that, you will fall off for nice."
"Yes, that's what I meant." Maya had been fourteen when the Cavens had adopted her last year. Her full name was Maya Josefina Fernandez de Avila. She had come from a very Catholic community but had to convert after moving to England (Queen Elizabeth was very protestant). Her parents and family had died in a smallpox epidemic in Avila one year, and, coincidentally, the Cavens had been visiting Spain that same year to visit the Fernandez de Avila family only to find out the sad news. Maya had been the only survivor, so they had taken her home with them, for she had no other family. Emiliana felt guilty for being happy that Maya had come to live with them, but she was very glad to have such a talented riding teacher. She and Maya adjusted themselves on their horses and were just beginning to continue on the trail when Samantha rode up behind them. "The Queen has invited us to dine with her!" she announced suddenly. Maya pulled her horse to a stop and turned it around while Emiliana struggled to get her horse to move again. "You're joking?" Maya exclaimed. Samantha shook her head solemnly. "But," Emiliana said, still turned around, "we're preparing for a wedding! We can't just go running off to London." "It's the Queen, Emmi. You can't say no to the Queen. And obviously Mother would never refuse even if she could." Maya said. So the three girls rode back up to the castle to prepare for dinner with the Queen the next night.
The only problem with going to see the Queen the next night was having to listen to Penelope whining about clothes again. "How about that fur dress that matches yours? No, you wore yours to greet wedding guests, I can't wear mine to see the Queen." Emiliana sighed. "I'm getting mine made specially for the occasion, of course." Penelope looked at her sister. "Yes! Why didn't I think of that?" Emiliana shrugged. "I didn't. Mother told all of us that it must be specially made-but you weren't there." Penelope glared at Emiliana. "Very well. I'll go speak to her." As soon as Penelope left, Emiliana dashed to the window. There it was: the strange carriage with the strange emblem. It was unsettling, somehow, to see something so foreign to her. And there- just now- went Sir Finn, and, finally, neither Penelope nor Alexandria were with him. Emiliana dashed across the room and was about to tear down the stairs when she stopped abruptly. Self-consciously, she looked down at her shabby riding dress. Emiliana was not used to being self-conscious at all, yet something made her go back up into her room and change into a light-blue winter gown with a snow-flake pattern and everything. She hopped downstairs and ran into Alexandria. "What are you all dressed up for?" Alexandria asked sharply. Emiliana looked at her dress again. "Do I look dressed up? It's just a gown..do I look overdressed?" Alexandria shrugged a little. "Defensive girl. What's the matter with you?" "Nothing, Alexa." Emiliana proceeded out the front door and toward the carriage. Sir Finn was still there, searching underneath the seats for some thing or other. "Hello, Sir Finn," Emiliana called. He turned around. "Hello, there! Come over, won't you?" When she approached him, he asked, "may I ask what your name is, miss?" Flattered by his manners, Emiliana replied, "Emiliana." He grinned. "I like that name." There was a noise behind Emiliana and Sir Finn just about lept behind his carriage. "It was a squirrel, Sir Finn, and is something wrong?" Emiliana looked behind her. Sir Finn shook his head. "I thought it was that sister of yours, Miss Penelope. She won't give a second's time alone. I just managed to escape her an hour ago when she heard the Queen would be having the you for supper. Call me William, anyway." Emiliana hid her disappointment. "Did you say you wanted to be alone? I can leave-" "No, I don't mind your company, but no offense, your sister really can't stop talking long enough for me to tell her that I've other things to do." Emiliana was still getting the feeling that he wanted her to leave. He must have noticed this, because he said quickly, "do stay, though, I need some fresh ears to bore with my rambling." "You're not boring me. Oh! I just remembered what I came over here to ask you. Where do you come from?"
"The emblem you mean?"
"Yes. I've been curious about it since this morning when you arrived."
"I live in Salisbury, it's a frightful distance away from here."
"I gathered that! Of course, I know where Salisbury is but I've never been there. You came all the way to Gravesend for a wedding?"
"Well, I have some other business to take care of as well." They talked for a while more, and Emiliana did not notice the sun setting.
Emiliana was about to say something else when Esther's voice pierced the air. "Miss Emiliana! Whatever are you doing? It's getting dark and- oh, Sir Finn, um, hello." Esther glanced at Emiliana.
"Miss Emiliana, what are you doing?"
"Just speaking with Sir Finn."
"At this time of night?"
Emiliana replied, "What time of night?"
Esther looked at her in surprise. "It's nine o' clock, miss!" then she added in a whisper, "and you shouldn't be out, especially..." she paused. "Well, you know. Not.. with someone." Emiliana turned to William. "It's supper time, Sir, and I'll have to be going. Good evening."
As they were walking away, Esther said, "Penelope said to look for you in the halls, she didn't imagine you to be outside, with, with someone at this time of night!"
"We were talking!" Emiliana retorted. She left Esther at the door and went up to her room. She went in and was about to change clothes when some thing on her desk caught her eye. "Oh!" she said to herself, "I forgot to mail dear Hannah's letter." she went over to her desk and noticed that the envelope had been torn open. The letter had been carelessly shoved back in and clumsily resealed-but there was still and obvious tear. Emiliana picked the note up and looked it over. Someone had read her mail and tried, unsuccessfully, to make it look like they hadn't. Someone was watching her.
Emiliana went downstairs, still shaken by her discovery. She sat down at the huge, oak table, next to Samantha, who was on her left. "Hello!" Emiliana grinned to cover up how disturbed she was as she sat down. "Are you as excited as I am about going to see the Queen tomorrow?"
"Oh, yes, I am. Where's Penelope?" Samantha was looking around the table for her. Emiliana did not have to answer, because Penelope came in only a few seconds later, arm in arm with Sir Finn. William did not look pleased with having to escort her, Emiliana observed.
"Let's sit here, Sir Finn." Penelope said sweetly, gesturing to the two chairs that were at the opposite end and other side of the table from Emiliana, who felt sorry for William. She thought him to be a very nice man but when Penelope found a man that she fancied, she drove them insane. Samantha seemed to read her sister's mind, "Poor Sir Finn."
"Hello! Are you Madame Emiliana?" Someone had sat down in the chair to her right. "Yes, and you are?" Emiliana replied politely.
"I am Sir Richard Osteller. Madame, isn't it?"
"No, I'm not married."
He smiled at her.
The next night, everyone dressed up in their fanciest dresses. It was a miracle that the seamstresses had finished everyone's dresses in time. Emiliana's was positively beautiful, but very tight. "This dress is cutting me in half, for goodness' sake." Emiliana said as Esther laced her in.
"Beauty is painful," Penelope reflected as she tightened her deep-red, velvet dress. It had flowers stitched all over the skirt in golden thread. Emiliana's gown was a gorgeous emerald green with silver stitching, but, although she had loved it at first, the tighter it got, the more she hated it. Penelope was looking through her bureau. "Where's my clip?"
"What did you say, Penny?" Emiliana asked.
"Where is my gold flower clip? It's not here!" Penelope continued throwing her things out of the bureau.
"Oh, please stop, miss!" Esther pleaded. Penelope whipped around. "You! You stole it, didn't you? Thieving little maid! I'll have you locked up, filthy little thief!" Esther looked at Penelope in horror.
"You don't know she did it! You probably misplaced it." Emiliana defended the maid.
"You don't know she didn't, either! I think she did, and she'll get the consequences, I know she did it!"
Emiliana didn't know what to do. She knew that, probably, whoever had broken in last night also took the gold clip. But if she told anyone, she would have to admit that she had been outside, alone, after dark (not to mention with a man), and if she didn't, Esther would get into trouble. Besides, nobody would believe her that her intentions had been good and innocent and she had just gone outside for a bit of fresh air and to ask Sir Finn about his emblem. She hadn't known how late it was until Esther had arrived. All she could do now was beg Penelope to come to her senses. "Please, Penny, you don't know. Remember how you sent her to look for me last night? She wasn't even in here!"
"Yes, but I haven't worn it since last week. She could have stolen it anytime! She did it!I know!" Penelope picked up a jar of ceruse and threw it at Esther.
"Stop! Stop it right now!" Emiliana demanded. But it was too late, and Esther had ran out the door. Emiliana picked up her skirts and ran into the hallway, calling for Esther. "Come back! Stop, please!" Esther did not come back. Emiliana stomped back in the room and said, "Penelope, look what you've done! She'll probably run away somewhere because she's innocent and she'll have people looking for her for the rest of her life because everyone will think she's a thief, not to mention a runaway. How could you?"
Penelope glowered at her twin. "She deserves it! She robbed me!"
"No she didn't!" Emiliana shouted, turned around, and ran down the hallway.
Supper with the Queen should have been a lot better than it was. The entire time, Emiliana was worrying about Esther and worrying about when Penelope was going to tell their mother (or father). Queen Elizabeth was as beautiful as everyone said, and Emiliana was thrilled to see her. She had met the Queen a few times when she was small, and could just barely remember. Right now, though, she was far, far too worried to care about any of this. When they arrived home, Emiliana tried very hard to keep Penelope away from their parents, but it seemed that Penelope wasn't going to tell them just yet.
"Why didn't you tell mother?" Emiliana confronted her twin.
"I think it's always good for your sister to have incentive to listen to you." Penelope said with a smirk.
"You mean blackmail? You're using Esther as blackmail!" Emiliana said, taken aback. "I cannot believe you!" she stomped out of the room.
Two days later, Emiliana was sitting on her favorite bench in the gardens when William came up to her and asked if he could sit down.
"Of course," Emiliana replied, flicking the daisy she was holding into the air and catching it again.
"Is something the matter?" he asked.
"Yes, but I couldn't tell you, really." She responded.
"Oh. Are you angry with me, then?"
"Of course not. It's really very complicated." Emiliana did not quite know why she couldn't tell William about Esther running away and it being Penelope's fault, and she couldn't tell him about Mr. Caswell somehow stealing a black rose, or Penelope's stupid clip, or even the letter. How could she explain all this to a friend that she'd only know for two days? Even so, it seemed like she had known him for years, they were so alike.
"We have time," he pointed out. "I'm listening."
Emiliana was so overwhelmed by everything that she felt like crying but she couldn't, not with a noble sitting there, right next to her. "Well, to start, I think someone broke into my room a few nights ago. They ripped open a letter of mine and read it, then tried to reseal it but it was still very noticeable, and I think he also stole one of Penelope's clips out of her bureau. This was when I was talking to you. And then, the next day, Penelope found out that her clip was missing and she blamed Esther, our maid, who is very sweet and she would never do such a thing. Well, Esther ran away and I have no idea what to do. But before that, I found Mr. Caswell sitting here with one of my mother's black roses from the private gardens."
"Do you think he did it?" William asked thoughtfully.
"What, steal the clip and look at my letter?"
"Yes. Did he do anything else strange?"
"I don't think he did it, and I don't know if he did anything else strange. I can't remember. I really am more worried about Esther, though. What am I supposed to do?"
This material belongs strictly to me, under my pen name, SnapdragonK. If all or any of this material is copied anywhere else without my permission, actions will be taken.