Amelia was trapped. It was the best way to describe her situation. Well, there were other words . . . like murder and death and ruin, but trapped seemed much nicer than any of those. And hopefully she was leaving those words behind her for good. She knew that it was dangerous , much more than dangerous, for her to do what she was about to. She could die. Which was, in entirety, a very likely outcome.
Sixteen year-old Amelia Walden-James would disappear, fall off the face of the earth, so to say, and in her place would be . . . well, Amelia hadn't exactly planned that far. She wasn't sure who she would become after leaving her home, but she did know that when the time came for her to assume another identity she could do so easily. Lying had always been something she had been good at. She had to leave Bath. Had to, before the servants found him. She looked to her right and immediately wished that she hadn't. The sight nearly made her wretch with fear and hatred. His face was pale, but she could still feel that he was warm. She shivered in disgust and slipped out of the bed. She walked over to the chest of drawers where her nightgown had been discarded an hour before. She picked it up, pulled it on, and walked quickly out of the room, shutting the door to his room behind her.
The small, homely house they lived in, or rather she had lived in, was simple, much less than she deserved. The halls were bare as he had no money for furnishings such as tapestries and paintings or even decorative paper. There were but five servants on the entire grounds and none had been appointed as a personal maid to help Amelia dress or bathe. She had spent most of her hours stitching on a drapery for her mother-in-law, an ugly, pompous woman who thought of only herself, aside from her dear son. There was almost no furniture. Only a chaise and a chair in the company room, and a dinning room table in the dining hall.
Long ago, in the very beginning of her planning, she had decided not to take anything but the clothe son her back. What was more, she did not have much to take. If she were to take anything it would surely give her away and then there would most certainly be death in her future, death or imprisonment. She changed into a riding frock, the plainest one she owned, and slid her feet into warm stockings and riding boots. Over that she put the single most expensive thing that she owned; a velvet fur-lined cloak. It was the warmest garment that she owned and she knew right away that she would need it for winter had arrived and was pressing. Then she hurried from her room, past the servants, sleeping snugly in the servant quarters and out into the chilly October air.
There was no stable boy to chose a mount for her, or to tack up the horse in her saddle. She didn't have her own horse, and in fact she had only ridden on a handful of occasions, none of which had been entirely pleasant. But He had loved to ride and was seldom seen without a horse, so she knew the placement of the saddle, generally speaking, She walked steadily down the small aisle of horses. The lack of decor in the manor was made up in full by the superiority and beauty of all His Lordship's horses. There were fourteen and each he had ridden and broken in, and each was taken care as if it were a king's horse. Sometimes Amelia believed that he cared more for the horses than his wife. She found later that looks in a beast of burden amounted to nothing if the animal was meant for travel and work, but, as she knew nothing of this, she chose the most beautiful mount in the stable. He was the color of a ruby, a dark red coat that turned to black on his legs and shoulders. His face was dark too, almost black, and at the center of his nose was a small, white splotch.
She somehow managed to saddle the young horse, for there was no doubt that he was young, but the saddles that she found were all for men. As a lady she wasn't used to riding a stride like a man, and the very though of her ankles showing, her legs spread so immodestly apart was enough to make her flush deeply. She managed to get on the beast and kick him into a run, which he did gladly, the second in a long line of mistakes that would ultimately ruin her life, and screeched as the beast leaped out of the stable and started out the main road at a full gallop. She managed to stay on the first hour, clutching at the saddle with her hands, and, though she regretted thinking of it, her thighs and calves as well. To her surprised when the third hour came about, and the horse had slowed his pace somewhat to an unsteady, rocky canter, she was still in the saddle. Up ahead in the road was a tree, lain across the middle from a recent storm. Amelia prepared to jump it, but the horse, tired, weak, and unhappy, balked and reared, tossing Amelia from the saddle to the mud and dirt of the road.